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Book any of the below Back-Roads small group tour between 23 March and 31 May 2015 for travel in June, July and August 2015 and receive AU150* credit per person with Flight Centre (excludes Battlefield tours).

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Back-Roads Tours

Kent & Sussex, 4 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: London - Chartwell - Penshurst Place - Canterbury - Whitstable - Dover - Canterbury - Chapel Down Winery - Rye - Sissinghurst Castle - London This four day tour explores the south east corner of England, which is filled with a wealth of historical, cultural and culinary attractions. Discover why Canterbury is the jewel in Kent's crown and why Whitstable has been dubbed the 'Pearl of Kent'. Wander through peaceful gardens, taste award winning English sparkling wines and explore 1066 country, made famous by the Battle of Hastings. Day 1 London - Chartwell - Penshurst Place - Canterbury Explore Chartwell, once the private home of Sir Winston Churchill and Penshurst Place, described as 'the grandest and most perfectly preserved example of a fortified manor house in all England'. Later we arrive at our hotel in the private grounds of Canterbury Cathedral. Day 2 Canterbury - Whitstable - Dover - Canterbury Our circular route from Canterbury takes us to Whitstable, a charming port bustling with picturesque lanes, boutique shops, seafood eateries and artisanal bakeries. We then visit the iconic White Cliffs of Dover. Back in Canterbury, enjoy an evening at leisure. Day 3 Canterbury - Chapel Down Winery - Rye Visit the Chapel Down Winery to taste some of their award-winning English wines before boarding the Tenterden Steam Railway, which winds its way through the beautiful countryside of the Rother Valley. Our destination today is Rye, a picturesque market town in 1066 country. Day 4 Rye - Sissinghurst Castle - London Explore 1066 country including Rye with its maritime maze of Medieval and Georgian buildings, Hastings with its picturesque Old Town and the thriving market town of Battle, home to the very spot where King Harold fell during the fateful conflict. After visiting Sissinghurst Castle, we return to London. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 11 May - 7 September 2015

4 days
FROM $1,650*
4 days FROM $1,650*

Orkney & The Highlands, 4 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS:Inverness - Scottish Highlands - Kirkwall - Neolithic settlements & archaeological sites - Wick - Dunrobin Castle - Inverness On this tour of discovery, see some of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe and explore a sliver of mankind's ancient existence that's found nowhere else. Steeped in Viking history, the Orkney is sprinkled with prehistoric sites that have survived Scotland's climate for over 5,000 years. Day 1 Inverness - Scottish Highlands - Kirkwall We travel through the northern Highlands passing through Beauly and Strathpeffer. We continue our journey through the Caithness to the Castle and Gardens of Mey, the beloved home of the late Queen Mother. Later we catch the ferry to Orkney. Day 2 Neolithic settlements & archaeological sites Visit a number of amazing archaeological sites, including the Stone Age tomb of Maes Howe and Skara Brae and the mystical standing stones of Brodgar. We drive to the Broch of Gurness, where we see evidence of a Viking settlement. Tides permitting, we also walk to the Brough of Birsay. Day 3 Kirkwall - Wick We explore the former Viking settlement of Kirkwall, with its interesting historical sites including St Magnus Cathedral, Earl's Palace and Bishop's Palace. This is also home to one of Scotland's best distilleries, Highland Park Distillery. We travel to Scapa Flow and we visit the famous Italian Chapel, before we take the ferry back to the mainland and drive to Wick. Day 4 Wick - Dunrobin Castle - Inverness We visit Dunrobin Castle which has been home to the Dukes of Sutherland since the 1400s. Following a beautiful coastal road, we cross the Dornoch and Cromarty Firths and travel back to Inverness. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 5 May - 29 September 2015

4 days
FROM $1,795*
4 days FROM $1,795*

Isle of Wight & The New Forest, 5 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: London - Chawton House - Portsmouth - Isle of Wight - New Forest - Newbury - London This tour features two regions of natural beauty; on the Isle of Wight, taste fresh produce and uncover some of the history of British Royalty and pick the freshest fruit and vegetable in the New Forest. Uncover the best of Southern England on this wonderful five-day tour. Day 1 London - Chawton House - Portsmouth - Isle of Wight Our journey takes us to the 17th century Chawton House where Jane Austen once lived. After some free time in Portsmouth, the UK's only island city, we board the ferry for our crossing to the Isle of Wight. Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner that features fresh seasonal and local produce. Day 2 Isle of Wight Visit Carisbrooke Castle, where King Charles I was famously imprisoned prior to his execution. Later explore Ventnor Botanic Garden, which is unrivalled for its collections of subtropical and exotic plants. Day 3 Isle of Wight - New Forest After visiting Osborne House, Queen Victoria's royal seaside palace, we embark on a scenic drive to Yarmouth. This afternoon we return to the mainland and make our way to Buckler's Hard, which played an important part in Britain's shipbuilding history. We spend the next two nights in the New Forest. Day 4 New Forest In Ringwood, a traditional market town, we enjoy some free time and discover the lively weekly market. Later, we explore the ancient New Forest and learn more from a local guide about its history, wildlife and foraging for its fruits and fungi. We enjoy a farewell dinner together tonight. Day 5 New Forest - Newbury - London Today we make our way to Newbury. Here we enjoy a traditional narrow boat experience on the Kennet and Avon canal before returning to London. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 3 May - 27 September 2015

5 days
FROM $1,795*
5 days FROM $1,795*

Istanbul to Kusadasi, 6 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS:Istanbul - Gallipoli Battlefields - Canakkale - Troy - Assos - Yesilyurt - Pergamon - Sirince - Pamukkale - Ephesus - Priene - Didyma - Miletus - Kusadasi Develop a taste for the exotic on this short tour where our small coach comes into its own to take you off the well-known tourist trail to uncover hidden Turkey. Discover the Gallipoli peninsula, the site of one of the most futile battles of World War I. See ancient Greco-Roman cities - including Ephesus, in many ways the grandest of all. Day 1 Istanbul - Gallipoli Battlefields - Canakkale Away from Istanbul we find the Chateau Barbare vineyards where we learn about Turkish wine production. In the Gallipoli peninsula we visit famous sites such as Brighton Beach, ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. Day 2 Gallipoli - Troy - Assos - Yesilyurt Explore the ruins of Troy where various layers of the city's history may be seen in the foundations, before driving to Assos to discover the Athena Temple. In Kucukkuyu we visit an old olive press to see how Turkish olive oil is made. Day 3 Yesilyurt - Pergamon - Sirince We wind our way along the Kozak Plateau to Pergamon, for a tour of the Acropolis. After lunch at a country farm we drive to Sirince, our base for the next three nights. Day 4 Sirince - Pamukkale - Sirince We see the Temple of Aphrodite, the ruins of Hierapolis and the white limestone travertine and hot spring terraces of Pamukkale. Day 5 Sirince - Ephesus - Sirince We see a pillar which is all that remains of the Temple of Artemis, en route to the Greco-Roman city of Ephesus. On a walk through the city, you will see the famous Library of Celsus and the amphitheatre where the disciple Paul preached. Later we visit the House of the Virgin Mary, a sacred site for Christians and Muslims. Back in Sirince we enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 6 Sirince - Priene - Didyma - Miletus - Kusadasi Drive to Priene, the favourite home of Alexander The Great, then to Didyma to admire the giant Apollo Theatre and finally visit Miletus, whose famous citizens included Thales a philosopher of nature and the universe. Our tour ends in Kusadasi, a resort city on Turkey's Aegean coast. Ask about our great airfaresView our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 5 June - 9 October 2015

6 days
FROM $1,845*
6 days FROM $1,845*

Heart of England, 5 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: London - Oxford - Cotswolds - Stratfordupon - Avon - Cotswolds - Lacock - Bath - Longleat - Avebury - London The Heart of England is one the UK's most iconic regions, encompassing Oxford, the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage site. On this five-day journey, we will visit Oxford and Lacock, explore quaint Cotswold villages famous for their charming honey-coloured stone cottages with thatched roofs, wander along historic village streets and explore traditional stately homes. Day 1 London - Oxford - Cotswolds Relax as we travel through the Chilterns to Oxford, the most famous university city in the world. Here we enjoy a walk among the golden-stone buildings and 'dreaming spires' and visit one of the university's iconic colleges. This afternoon we traverse the gentle, timeless hills of the Cotswolds, and pass through scenic villages, stopping at some of the gems on our way to tonight's accommodation in beautiful Chipping Campden. This evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner together. Day 2 Cotswolds - Stratfordupon - Avon - Cotswolds This morning is a feast for literary enthusiasts and history buffs as we visit Shakespeare's Stratford-upon- Avon to discover Ye Olde England of the Bard's birth and his final resting place, Holy Trinity Church just outside the city. En route we will stop at a thatched farmhouse where the young William Shakespeare courted his future bride Anne Hathaway. Later, we meander through country lanes and honey-coloured hamlets to quaint villages such as Snowshill, Bidford and Broadway, which are often referred to as the "Jewels of the Cotswolds". Tonight we return to our delightful Cotswolds base for an evening at leisure. Day 3 Cotswolds - Lacock - Bath Leaving the Cotswolds behind, this morning we journey south towards Somerset, a beautiful and varied county in the west of England. Our first visit is to the picture-perfect village of Lacock, which has been used in countless television and movie productions including Pride and Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl and Harry Potter. After some time here to wander the historic village streets, see the exhibitions in the museum and visit the abbey we continue to Castle Coombe a small village in Wiltshire, also frequently used as a backdrop for period television and cinema dramas. Here we will enjoy a delicious cream tea, something that has been a tradition of British high society as far back as the early 19th century when Anna, the 7th Dutchess of Bedford, started to enjoy a pot a tea and a light snack privately in her boudoir during the afternoon. Our final destination today is Bath, where we spend the next two nights. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bath is truly one of Europe's most attractive cities, with the highest concentration of listed buildings anywhere in the British Isles. The evening is free to enjoy the city as you wish. Day 4 Bath Today we explore this splendid Georgian city to learn more about Roman life at the restored Roman Baths and see the towering 15th century abbey, fascinating Pulteney Bridge and the imposing Georgian Royal Crescent. We will also visit No.1 Royal Crescent, a magnificent townhouse that creates a wonderfully vivid picture of life in 18th century Bath. This afternoon is yours to spend at leisure. Those wishing to relax may choose to spend a few hours at the Thermae Bath Spa, Britain's original and only natural thermal spa, while others may choose to explore the myriad small independent shops, stylish boutiques and familiar high street stores. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 5 Bath - Longleat - Avebury - London From Bath we drive to Longleat, an English stately home, currently the seat of the Marquess of Bath. After a behind the scenes tour of the house, which will incorporate some of Lord Bath's personal murals, we continue to the village of Avebury to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Standing Stones, which rival Stonehenge as the largest and most complex prehistoric site in Britain. While Stonehenge attracts tourists from all around the world (and security precautions prevent you from getting anywhere near the stones) at Avebury visitors may walk freely among the stones in relative peace and quiet, away from the tourist crowds. Later today we take a leisurely drive back to London where the tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 23 March - 12 October 2015

5 days
FROM $1,925*
5 days FROM $1,925*

Edinburgh Military Tattoo, 4 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: Edinburgh - Aberfeldy - Pitlochry - Loch Leven - Edinburgh Tattoo - Falkirk Wheel - Linlithgow - Scottish Borders - Edinburgh Every August Edinburgh hosts one of the world's most spectacular entertainment events, set against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo draws together a host of creative talent from around the globe. Day 1 Edinburgh - Aberfeldy - Pitlochry - Loch Leven - Edinburgh In Aberfeldy, a small market town, we see the Black Watch Monument then visit the Crannog Visitors Centre in Loch Tay. Later we drive to Pitlochry, home to the Edradour Distillery, the smallest in Scotland. En route back to Edinburgh, we take in Dunkeld, Perthshire's ancient capital and Loch Leven, the largest loch in the Scottish Lowlands. Day 2 Edinburgh Tattoo Today is devoted to Edinburgh, Scotland's famous capital. We discover this fascinating city with its medieval and Georgian architecture and its imposing castle. Explore independently this afternoon before we meet up for the Edinburgh Tattoo, the highlight of our trip. This show is a fabulous mix of music, dance and display from all over the world. Day 3 Edinburgh - Falkirk Wheel - Linlithgow - Edinburgh After a morning at leisure, we travel to the Falkirk Wheel, the world's only rotating boat lift. Next we visit the magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace and discover the history of this great royal palace. This evening we enjoy a final dinner together. Day 4 Edinburgh - Scottish Borders - Edinburgh Today we discover the turbulent history, heritage and culture of the Scottish Borders, renowned for its untouched natural beauty, picturesque villages, castles and abbey ruins. We visit Jedburgh Abbey and the Burgh of Selkirk, before returning to Edinburgh where our tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 3 - 15 August 2015

4 days
FROM $1,995*
4 days FROM $1,995*

Istanbul & Cappadocia, 5 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS:Istanbul - Pasabagi Valley - Goreme Valley - Cappadocia - Devrent Valley - Ayvali Village - Kaymakli - Peristrema Valley Uncover the treasures of Istanbul and Cappadocia. Explore Istanbul's time-honoured markets in the Spice and Grand bazaars and fly into the heart of Turkey, once the centre of the Hittite Empire. Rich with a lunar-like landscape, shaped by thousands of years of volcanic activity, and home to the remarkable cave dwellings of the former troglodyte settlements, Cappadocia is a fascinating region to discover. Day 1 Istanbul This morning our Back-Roads tour leader shows us some of the highlights of Istanbul's Grand bazaar. Later we visit the nearby Egyptian or Spice Bazaar, a true experience for the senses. This evening we enjoy a welcome dinner together. Day 2 Istanbul - Pasabagi Valley - Goreme Valley - Cappadocia Fly to Cappadocia, a miraculous natural wonder in Turkey's Central Anatolian region, far removed from the marvellous mayhem of Istanbul. Spend the rest of the day discovering the region's geographical wonders, including the fairy-chimneys in the Pasabagi Valley and the rock-carved churches of Goreme Valley. We spend the next three nights in a unique cave hotel. Day 3 Cappadocia - Devrent Valley - Ayvali Village - Cappadocia Today we travel into the countryside, stopping to explore the extraordinary Devrent Valley. In the small village of Ayvali, we learn different Greek cooking techniques and secrets from 'Motter Havva' before sitting down to enjoy what we have made. Later we pass by the natural rock citadel of Uchisar before returning to our hotel. Day 4 Cappadocia - Kaymakli - Peristrema Valley - Cappadocia Explore Kaymakli, one of the largest underground cities in Cappadocia, where early Christians hid from their enemies, then drive to the rock carved churches of the Peristrema Valley. Back in Cappadocia we enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 5 Cappadocia - Istanbul After breakfast we fly back to Istanbul, where our tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 12 June - 16 October 2015

5 days
FROM $1,995*
5 days FROM $1,995*

Corners of Southern Ireland, 6 Days

Ireland

HIGHLIGHTS: Dublin - Killarney - Kenmare - Kilkenny - Ennis Day 1 Dublin -Kildare -Ennis. After meeting our tour leader and fellow travellers we leave Dublin and travel to County Kerry. Our first stop is the Irish National Stud in County Kildare home to Irelands finest thoroughbred horses and renowned Japanese Gardens. We continue to Birr Castle which is the home of the seventh Earl of Rosse. Known for the beauty of its gardens which include the worlds tallest box hedges wisteria and old roses this is a fascinating site to explore. Our final destination today is Ennis in County Clare where we enjoy a welcome dinner together. (D) Day 2 Ennis - Cliffs of Moher - Killarney. Departing from Doolin we make our way to the UNESCO Geopark of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher. Here we admire the diverse landscape of the Burren home to a vast array of flora and seabirds. There are over 2700 monuments in this region some dating back over 6000 years. All of this has led to the Burren being described as one vast memorial to bygone cultures. Later we enjoy a one-hour Cliffs of Moher cruise. Gaze in awe at the sheer scale and uniqueness of this natural phenomenon which towers over 700ft above the sea. This afternoon we drive to the town of Killarney known as the gateway to the Ring of Kerry. Killarney is situated in the midst of breath-taking landscapes surrounded by lakes and mountains. (B) Day 3 Killarney -Ring of Kerry - Killarney. We spend today exploring the lovely Ring of Kerry with its spectacular scenery and ancient heritage. We make a short visit to the Skellig Experience which tells of the Skellig monks and their lives in early Christian times. Our next port of call is Portmagee a small picturesque fishing village full of brightly painted houses. Later we see Staigue Fort an intriguing ring fort built between 300 and 400 AD. At the head of the River Sneem estuary we find the romantic village of Sneem which is referred to as the Knot in the Ring. Brimming with traditional buildings restaurants and craft shops we will have time to explore Sneem before we return to Killarney. (B) Day 4 Killarney - Kenmare - Kinsale. Our first visit of the day is to Muckross House where many of the rooms in this magnificent mansion have been restored to their original Victorian splendour. We then travel to the attractive town of Kenmare nestled at the mouth of Kenmare Bay before calling in at the 200-year old cottage of Molly Gallivan a widow who brewed illicit whiskey and sold it in her illegal pub! On Garnish Island we visit a garden of great beauty designed by Harold Peto and then arrive in the medieval town of Kinsale one of the most picturesque and popular seaside resorts in the south-west full of traditional bars lovely buildings narrow streets and fascinating shops. We enjoy dinner together tonight.(B D) Day 5 Kinsale - Cobh - Kilkenny. This morning we enjoy a walking tour of Kinsale accompanied by a local guide. Learn about its history and maritime traditions and admire the 800-year-old Church of Saint Multose and the unique star-shaped Charles Fort. We then make our way to Cork for a panoramic tour of the city before we head to the coastal town of Cobh where we find the Jameson Midleton Distillery. Here we learn about the production of whiskey and taste what is considered by many to be the finest whiskey in Ireland! We then travel to Kilkenny rich in medieval heritage and perhaps most famous for its imposing castle. This evening we enjoy a final dinner together. (B D) Day 6 Kilkenny - Dublin. Our route back to the capital takes us through the beautiful and dramatic Wicklow Mountains travelling through heather-clad hills lush vegetation rocky foothills and delightful glens. On our way we stop at the village of Avoca perhaps most famous for the ever-popular TV series Ballykissangel. Here we call in at Fitzgeralds Pub which featured in the programme. You will have time for a spot of shopping at the Avoca Woollen Mills before we travel back to Dublin where the tour ends. (B) View our great airfares travel insurance hotels and car hire.

Departing 27 April - 28 September 2015

6 days
FROM $2,195*
6 days FROM $2,195*

The Splendours of Sicily, 7 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Palermo - Erice - Trapani - Valley of the Temples - Piazza Armerina - Ragusa Ibla - Modica - Scicli - Syracuse - Taormina - Mount Etna - Savoca Although very much a part of Italy, Sicily is a unique island with a distinct character. Alongside remnants of fine Greek temples, Arab inspired gardens and superb Norman architecture left by ancient invaders you will find magnificent scenery and of course great food and wine. On this tour you will explore the island's history with local guides, discover its ancient salt reserves, visit Europe's most active volcano, Mount Etna, dine on local Sicilian food and gain as insight into the origins of the Sicilian mafia. Day 1 Palermo From Palermo we travel along the back roads to Corleone, known for the Corleonesi mafia clan and as the birthplace of several fictional characters in 'The Godfather'. Here we meet Gino Felicetti, the son of a Corleone couple, who will explain the origins and transformations of the mafia in Sicily. After an authentic Sicilian lunch, we return to Palermo where the rest of the day is at leisure. Day 2 Palermo - Erice - Trapani - Valley of the Temples Our first visit is to the medieval village of Erice, one of the unknown pearls of Italy, which dates back to Elymian times. We make our way to the Nature Reserve of Trapani and Paceco, which was established to protect one of the last coastal wetlands in western Sicily and is home to over 170 different species of birds including flamingos. At a winery in the Marsala region, sample the distinctive and eponymous wine, not dissimilar to Port or Madeira. Tonight we enjoy dinner overlooking the enchanting Valley of the Temples. Day 3 Valley of the Temples - Piazza Armerina - Ragusa Ibla Agrigento's Valley of the Temples is one of the greatest legacies of ancient Greece and is, not surprisingly, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Your local guide brings the past to life as we explore this stunning historical site, which consists of eight temples built between 510 BC and 430 BC. We also visit Piazza Armerina, a charming town where we find Villa Romana del Casale, one of the largest Roman dwellings of its kind to have survived antiquity. From here we wind our way along the back roads of Ragusa to our converted monastery accommodation in Ragusa Ibla. Day 4 Ragusa Ibla - Modica - Scicli - Ragusa Ibla Our first visit today is to Modica, the capital of Sicilian baroque art. After a walk through the Old Town to see the splendid Cathedral of San Giorgio, we continue to Scicli, one of the filming locations of the cult Sicilian Detective Montalbano series. Here we see the Palazzo del Municipio town hall and Palazzo Iacono in Piazza Italia among other interesting sites. Back in Ragusa Ibla enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Day 5 Ragusa Ibla - Syracuse - Taormina This morning we travel to Syracuse, an ancient town by the sea that once rivalled Athens as the most important city of the Greek world. Here we explore the town's archaeological area and the island of Ortigia with our local guide. The best way to appreciate Ortigia is to just wander around as it is packed with over 2,500 years of history. Highlights on our walking tour include Arethusa's Spring, the Piazza del Duomo and the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo. Later, we travel north to Taormina, a delightful town built high on the cliffs. Day 6 Taormina - Mount Etna - Taormina Our morning destination is Mount Etna, a slumbering, though certainly not dormant, volcano that dominates the landscape for miles around. Our drive takes us through several Sicilian towns and we see some old lava flows along the way. This afternoon we return to Taormina, the capital of Byzantine Sicily in the 9th century, where you may wish to visit the splendid Greek Theatre, or perhaps the 13th century Cathedral of San Nicola. As this beautiful town is reminiscent of Capri or an Amalfi coastal resort, you may choose to spend the afternoon simply relaxing. This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner. Day 7 Taormina - Savoca - Taormina A fitting end to our Sicilian adventure is a visit to Savoca, a beautiful hamlet where important scenes from the Godfather were filmed. Here we see the popular Bar Vitelli and the main Church of Savoca, which was the location of the wedding scene. The tour ends of return to Taormina. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 19 April - 4 October 2015

7 days
FROM $2,695*
7 days FROM $2,695*

The Wonders of Wales, 7 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: Cardiff - Brecon Beacons - Wye Valley - Brecon Beacons - Conwy - Caernarfon Castle - Nant Gwrtheyrn - Snowdonia National Park - Aberaeron - St David's - Pembrokeshire - Cardiff Come to Wales where mountains are shrouded in mist, and ancient legends blend with modern truisms to produce a deep national pride worth singing about. On tour, you'll learn of a principality which remains faithful to its Celtic roots - perhaps more so than any other part of the ancient Celtic world. Appreciate Welsh history, culture and language. But most of all, marvel at its spectacular scenery. Day 1 Cardiff - Brecon Beacons We enjoy a panoramic tour of the Cardiff Bay area before visiting the National History Museum of Wales at St Fagans, which offers a fascinating insight to Welsh heritage. Heading north we pass the dramatic Caerphilly Castle in the region known as the 'Welsh Valleys', home to the former Welsh coal mining industry. At the Big Pit, one of Britain's leading mining museums, we go down a former working coal mine and learn more about the history of the industry in Wales. Later, we travel into the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park to our hotel in Crickhowell. Day 2 Brecon Beacons - Wye Valley - Brecon Beacons We journey south from Crickhowell to enjoy some Roman history at Caerleon - the site of one of Britain's three permanent Roman legionary fortresses. Then it's on to the beautiful Wye Valley and Tintern, home to the famous abbey. Later we travel up the steep valley, to learn about Wales' wine industry as we stop at an award-winning vineyard. Enjoy an evening at leisure tonight in Crickhowell. Day 3 Brecon Beacons - Conwy We travel north through the border regions of mid Wales stopping at bbey Cwm Hir Hall. Set in 12 acres of beautiful gardens, this gothicstyle stately Victorian home is full of an eclectic and eccentric collection of artefacts. We pass the impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the longest and highest in the United Kingdom and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Later today we enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at Cefn Park, where the owners of this country estate will tell us how they unearthed and restored the original below stairs Victorian Kitchen and regale us with some incredible stories of their fascinating ancestors. After check-in at our hotel in Conwy, we head to Llandudno for a traditional male voice choir concert. Day 4 Conwy Enjoy a day at leisure in the medieval walled town of Conwy. We particularly recommend a visit to Conwy Castle, originally built by Edward I between 1283 and 1287. You may also wish to take a short trip to the pleasant seaside resort of Llandudno or a local taxi to Bodnant Garden. Day 5 Conwy - Caernarfon Castle - Nant Gwrtheyrn - Snowdonia National Park We head west to Caernarfon Castle, probably the most famous castle in Wales - its sheer scale and commanding presence easily sets it apart from the rest. We travel along the beautiful Lleyn Peninsula to the Heritage Centre tucked away in the once abandoned village of Nant Gwrtheyrn where we have the chance to learn a few words in this notoriously difficult to pronounce language and enjoy a Welsh tea Later we travel through the beautiful Snowdonia National Park to our delightful hotel. Day 6 Snowdonia National Park - Aberaeron - St David's - Pembrokeshire Today we make our way south towards St David's, Britain's smallest city. Along the way we stop in Aberaeron, a charming regency town set along the mouth of the Aeron River and Castell Henllys and nestled deep in the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park. This unique Iron Age hill fort recreated with fantastic replica Iron Age roundhouses, has been built right on top of the excavated remains of an existing hill fort, dating back 2,400 years. After visiting St David's, which was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II because of the presence of the cathedral, we enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 7 Pembrokeshire - Cardiff We continue our journey around the west coast of Wales exploring the beautiful coastal county of Pembrokeshire. Our tour leader will give us a choice of places to stop along the way, including Tenby, an attractive walled seaside town before returning to Cardiff where our Welsh experience ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 26 April - 4 October 2015

7 days
FROM $2,715*
7 days FROM $2,715*

Corners of Cornwall, 7 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: London - Wells - Dartmoor National Park - Port Isaac - Padstow - Falmouth - Trebah Gardens - Tregothnan - Fowey - Hawkchurch - Salisbury - London This tour has it all, from history and architecture, to breath-taking scenery and fine food. Drive through Dartmoor National Park where wild ponies roam, visit Doc Martin's Port Isaac, explore Britain's maritime past in Falmouth and sample regional delights such as a Cornish pasty, a Cornish cream tea, clotted cream ice cream or Atlantic crab. Even with such a busy schedule we still embrace the back roads of this region and give you some time to add in a few adventures of your own. CORNERS OF Day 1 London - Wells - Dartmoor National Park We travel to the tiny market city of Wells, known for its attractive cathedral and Vicar's Close. Explore the local shops, or perhaps enjoy a coffee before we continue to Dartmoor National Park. As the landscape changes we meander through beautiful country lanes, over ancient stone bridges and through dramatic rolling countryside where wild ponies roam. We stop at the recently renovated High Moorland Visitor Centre for an insight into the Dartmoor National Park's culture, stories and wildlife, before we reach our accommodation located in the heart of this stunning region. Day 2 Dartmoor National Park - Port Isaac - Padstow - Falmouth We have a gourmet delight ahead of us today as we make our way to the rugged north coast of Cornwall. We visit the picturesque fishing village of Port Isaac, famously featured in the television series Doc Martin and see other typical Cornish villages. But the highlight of our day is lunch at 'The Seafood Restaurant', Rick Stein's flagship restaurant in Padstow. Later we make our way to Falmouth, our base for the next three nights. Day 3 Falmouth - St Ives - St Michael's Mount - Falmouth In the delightful old fishing town of St Ives we wander along cobbled streets between pretty fishermen's cottages to uncover the legend, history and tradition of this ancient town. We then visit the Minack Theatre, Cornwall's world famous open-air cliff-face theatre. Our next stop is the fascinating and historical St Michael's Mount. Take a small boat to the island from the little Cornish town of Marazion to discover the medieval castle and delve into the island's past. We return to Falmouth for dinner in our hotel. Day 4 Falmouth Today is entirely free for you to explore the historic town of Falmouth. There is something for everyone, whatever your interests including Cornwall's largest fortress, Pendennis Castle, one of a pair that once guarded the entrance to Falmouth Harbour, the National Maritime Museum and Falmouth Art Gallery. You may also choose to take a short ferry ride to St Mawes Castle or alternatively, a short train ride or a boat ride along the Fal River to Cornwall's capital city, Truro. Day 5 Falmouth - Trebah Gardens - Tregothnan - Fowey Our first visit today is to the 26-acre sub-tropical Gardens of Trebah, leading down to the banks of the beautiful Helford River. Later we drive to Tregothnan Estate, the historic seat of the Boscawen family, viscounts of Falmouth. Internationally recognised as the home of English tea, we explore part of Cornwall's largest private estate, as well as the tea plantation, accompanied by a member of the estate's gardening team. Later we continue to our hotel in Fowey. Day 6 Fowey - Hawkchurch After a leisurely start to the day, our journey takes us to the quaint fishing village of Polperro as we drive along the south Cornish coast. This afternoon we visit the magnificent Buckfast Abbey before continuing to our hotel in Hawkchurch near Lyme Regis, where we enjoy a delicious farewell dinner together. Day 7 Hawkchurch - Salisbury - London Explore the historic port town of Lyme Regis, where Jane Austen based parts of her novel 'Persuasion' and which was also the setting for John Fowles' 'The French Lieutenant's Woman'. Take in the panoramic vista of the Jurassic Coast from the Langmoor and Lister Gardens, wander along its 18th century promenade and see its famous Cobb and ancient harbour that continues to inspire writers and artists today. Following the old Roman road we travel to Salisbury, home to one of England's most magnificent cathedrals, which has the tallest spire in Britain. Here is where we have the opportunity to see the original Magna Carta. Our fascinating tour ends in London. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 8 April - 18 October 2015

7 days
FROM $2,745*
7 days FROM $2,745*

Croatia & The Dalmatian Coast, 7 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Trogir - Split - Sibenik - Krka National Park - Korcula - Orebic - Dubrovnik - Elaphite Islands Come to southern Croatia on an exciting journey of discovery and find out why it is one of Europe's hottest destinations. This fascinating land has been shaped by thousands of years of history and the warm Adriatic waters that lap against its 5,000 kilometres of coastline. Taste authentic Croatian cuisine, savour the natural beauty of national parks, and relax on a Dalmatian island. Day 1 Trogir - Split - Trogir We explore Trogir, one of the oldest cities in Croatia. Ruled in succession by the Greeks, Romans and Venetians, Trogir is a town rich in culture and heritage with a wealth of churches, fortresses, palaces, museums and towers. Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Split, the largest city on the Adriatic coast. On our walking tour we explore Diocletian's Palace, built by the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the 4th century and see the Grgur Ninski Statue and the Cathedral and Bell Tower of St Domnius. This evening we visit a family owned tavern to taste authentic Croatian cuisine. Day 2 Trogir - Sibenik - Krka National Park - Trogir We travel to Sibenik, a historical city located at the mouth of the River Krka. Highlights include the Cathedral of St. James, built in 1434, and the Fortress of St. Nicholas. From Sibenik we travel short distance to Krka National Park, a natural area of exceptional beauty. We spend the afternoon exploring the park's extensive forest, breath-taking waterfalls and crystal clear lakes before making our way to Bibich Winery. Enjoy wine tasting and tapas while learning about the history of this wine growing region before travelling back to Trogir to enjoy your evening at leisure. Day 3 Trogir - Korcula We leave Trogir and take a ferry from Split to the island of Korcula. This beautiful island is a fusion of stunning beaches, quiet coves, century old olive groves, vineyards, ancient towns and small fishing villages. This afternoon we take an orientation walk around Korcula's old town, a medieval walled city dominated by the superb St Mark's Cathedral, completed in the 15th century. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at a traditional restaurant. Day 4 Korcula Today is yours to spend at leisure. You may wish to visit one of the many cafes to sample the local cuisine or spend the entire day lounging on a beautiful beach. Or, you may choose to take a taxi boat from the main harbour to Vrnik, a tiny island with plenty of swimming spots, which is a favourite with the locals. Day 5 Korcula - Orebic - Dubrovnik Leaving Korcula, we take a short ferry ride to Orebic, a town renowned for its winemaking traditions that date backs to the Roman Empire. Perched on the edge of the Adriatic Sea, the winery offers breath-taking views of Croatia's Dalmatian coast. After a tour of the winery, we continue south through the Peljesac peninsula on our way to Dubrovnik, well known as one of the most unique places in Europe. After settling in our hotel, we enjoy a late afternoon cable car ride to Srd Hill (weather permitting) overlooking the town. The evening is at leisure. Day 6 Dubrovnik Enjoy a walking tour of Dubrovnik's Old Town with its charming medieval streets. See the Franciscan Monastery and its adjacent Pharmacy, Sponza Palace, the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Old Port. This afternoon is yours to continue exploring Dubrovnik or simply sit back, relax and enjoy a coffee, beer or glass of wine as you take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful city. This evening we travel to a family farm in Ljubac, to try our hand at baking our own pancetta appetizers. After a delicious home cooked dinner, there will be a traditional Croatian folklore performance. Day 7 Dubrovnik - Elaphite Islands - Dubrovnik This morning's boat excursion takes us to the three largest islands of the Elaphite archipelgo: Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud. Dotted with pine forests, authentic villages and idyllic bays, these islands are fascinating to explore. During the day enjoy a grilled fish lunch accompanied by Dalmatian wine. Our tour ends on our return to Dubrovnik. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 17 May - 4 October 2015

7 days
FROM $2,865*
7 days FROM $2,865*

Greece's Ionian Islands, 5 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS:Athens - Olympia - Lefkadha - Kefalonia - Ithaca - Messolonghi - Athens On this five-day journey from Athens we discover the Ionian archipelago, which sweeps down the west coast of mainland Greece. The natural beauty of the islands of Kefalonia, Ithaca and Lefkadha embrace any visitor but each has its own distinct tradition, character and charm. Soak up the atmosphere and get a feel for these islands. Wander through traditional towns with beautiful narrow streets, small squares and traditional houses, indulge in fresh, local cuisine and relax with a coffee in an authentic kafeneio. Day 1 Athens - Olympia Today we travel to Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. In a local restaurant, we participate in a cooking lesson and learn about traditional Greek cuisine, before enjoying our first dinner together. Day 2 Olympia - Lefkadha The first Ionian island on our Greek adventure is Lefkadha. In the ancient city of Lefkadha we see remnants of the theatre and the peripheral walls and in today's serene capital we wander through narrow streets, overlooked by picturesque houses and the Venetian castle of Agia Mavra. Day 3 Lefkadha - Kefalonia - Lefkadha We take a private boat excursion to the wild and beautiful island of Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands. During the day we explore the picture-perfect harbour town of Assos, one of the only villages to survive intact after the 1953 earthquake. Day 4 Lefkadha - Ithaca - Lefkadha Today we explore Ithaca Island, the unique and tranquil home of Homer's Odysseus. In Stavros we visit the archaeological museum and taste some delicacies. After visiting the picturesque port of Kioni we return on our private boat to Lefkadha where we enjoy a farewell dinner this evening. Day 5 Lefkadha - Messolonghi - Athens On our return to Athens, we stop in Messolonghi, to visit the central fish market for an insight into the traditional industry of this area. Our tour ends on arrival in Athens. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 22 May - 25 September 2015

5 days
FROM $2,895*
5 days FROM $2,895*

Enchanting Southern Italy, 7 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Naples - Pompeii - Paestum - Scala - Ravello - Amalfi - Positano - Capri - Vietri sul Mare - Tramonti - Royal Palace of Caserta - Sant'Agata dei Goti - Naples The Bay of Naples was once a great centre of classical Roman civilisation - today, we are offered a glimpse into this lost world at the excavated remains of Pompeii. This tour will also visit the white marble Greek temples at Paestum and the island of Capri; travel along dramatic stretches of the Amalfi Coast and have the opportunity to taste local delicacies including buffalo mozzarella and limoncello. Day 1 Naples Arrive in Naples at your leisure. This evening meet your Back-Roads tour leader and fellow travellers for a pre-tour briefing. Day 2 Naples - Pompeii - Paestum With a local guide we visit the Old City of Naples, partly on foot and partly by bus, to see the Cappella Sansevero, with its centrepiece of the Veiled Christ which is one of the most famous and impressive works of art in the world. This afternoon we head south to visit the extensive ruins of Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed by the awesome power of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. On a guided walking tour with a local expert, we are given an insight into everyday Roman life and see many fascinating sights including the Basilica, the Forum and the Amphitheatre. We then make our way to our charmingly rustic accommodation near Paestum. Tonight we will enjoy a delicious traditional meal together. Day 3 Paestum - Scala This morning we learn the art of traditional Campania cooking before sitting down with the family to enjoy the lunch that we have prepared. This afternoon we will explore UNESCO listed Paestum, a secret gem hidden away from the main tourist track and just waiting to be discovered. Looking at the gleaming white marble temples against the backdrop of the mountains is a wonderful and unique experience. Our local guide brings this important historical site to life before we continue to Scala, the oldest town of the Amalfi Coast and our base for the next four nights. Day 4 Scala - Ravello - Amalfi - Positano - Scala The thirteen villages of the Amalfi Coast are collectively known as pearls - each with its own character and all rich in history and culture. Our first stop today is in Ravello, a gorgeous little town famous for its spectacular views and its two fabulous villas: Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone. Next we enjoy a walking tour of Amalfi with its cluster of tightly packed houses rising up the hillside, which is dominated by the beautiful Cathedral of St Andrew. Our day wouldn't be complete without a visit to the fishing village of Positano, famous across the world for its hand-made pezze. Day 5 Scala - Capri - Scala Today we board the ferry and sail to the island of Capri, lying in the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the Sorrento Peninsula. Capri has been a popular resort since the days of Ancient Rome and Capri town offers a wide choice of exclusive shopping, cafes and restaurants. To reach the centre of Capri from the port we will board the funicular railway, which travels through the island's lemon groves. Later this afternoon we return to Scala. Day 6 Scala - Vietri sul Mare - Tramonti - Scala This morning we visit some more of the Amalfi Coast pearls including Minori, Maiori and Cetara before reaching Vietri sul Mare, famous across the world for its handpainted and vividly-coloured ceramics. This afternoon we travel along the back roads of the region to Tramonti, where we visit a local producer of limoncello, a strong and tasty lemon-based liqueur. We sample this local speciality before we return to Scala where we gather for a final dinner together. Day 7 Scala - Royal Palace of Caserta - Sant'Agata dei Goti - Naples Today we drive to the 18th century Royal Palace of Caserta, the last great building of the Italian Baroque. Although we can't visit all 1,200 rooms, the ones we will see are as extravagant as they are exquisite. We then travel to Sant'Agata dei Goti to visit a local farmhouse for a tasting of Aglianico wines followed by a traditional lunch. Our tour ends on our return to Naples. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

DepartingValid for select departure 12 April - 11 October 2

7 days
FROM $2,995*
7 days FROM $2,995*

Tuscan Treats & The Cinque Terre, 9 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Florence - Lucca - Cinque Terre - Volterra - Siena - Tuscany - Florence Tuscany is a region characterised by rugged hills, fertile valleys, ancient hilltop villages and some of Italy's greatest food and wine. Savour the culture of this renowned region as we discover the local art of winemaking and sample the rich red wines that perfectly complement the hearty Tuscan cuisine. Spend a day exploring the Cinque Terre, discover Florence's renaissance treasures, enjoy a leisurely stroll through medieval towns and cook lunch with an Italian chef. Day 1 Florence Arrive in Florence at your leisure. This evening meet your Back-Roads tour leader and fellow travellers for a pre-tour briefing followed by a welcome dinner. Day 2 Florence This morning we set out on a fascinating walking tour of Florence. This 'outdoor museum' offers many must-see sights and no trip to Florence is complete without a visit to the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest and most famous bridge over the Arno. Stroll along the bridge, lined with glittering jewellery shops, before we make our way to the Galleria dell'Accademia to see the statue of David, Michelangelo's masterpiece of renaissance sculpture. This afternoon explore this great city further at your own pace and enjoy an evening at leisure. Day 3 Florence - Lucca Leaving Florence behind we travel to Lucca via one of the region's lovely villages for a coffee break. This afternoon we rrive in Lucca one of Tuscany's best-kept secrets. This beautiful little Tuscan town is protected by massive 16th century walls and is one of Italy's finest medieval towns. Take a leisurely stroll, before deciding where to enjoy dinner this evening. For classical music lovers we highly recommend purchasing tickets for the Puccini Opera, which is held in the town every evening. Day 4 Lucca - Cinque Terre - Lucca Today we set out to explore the steep Tuscan coastline of the Italian Riviera. One of the highlights of the tour is the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Composed of five pretty pastel coloured villages nestled among five miles of remote and rocky coastline, the Cinque Terre offers magnificent scenery dotted with olive groves and vineyards, superb fresh seafood and beautiful little harbours. We explore three of the villages by boat (weather permitting), train and foot before we return to Lucca in the late afternoon. Day 5 Lucca - Pisa - Volterra Today we travel to Pisa to see the xtraordinary 12th century Leaning Tower and the impressive Baptistery of St. John. From Pisa we travel through the romantic and timeless beauty of the Tuscan countryside to Volterra, a magnificent and mysterious walled medieval town perched high upon a rocky plateau. Day 6 Volterra - Siena - Volterra Today the grandeur of the Tuscan countryside continues as we head to medieval Siena, with its breathtaking array of majestic buildings, drawn together by winding cobbled alleyways and steep steps. Later we drive to San Gimignano, one of Italy's most beautiful hilltop villages before returning to Volterra for an evening at leisure. Day 7 Volterra - Tuscany This morning we drive through rolling green hills, vineyards and olive groves to the delightful village of Monteriggioni. Later we will visit a local producer of olive oil for a tasting before travelling to our final destination today, a beautiful villa in the Tuscan countryside. Day 8 Tuscany It is time for a little work this morning as the villa's chef will share the secret of how to make perfect pasta and tasty Italian breads. Afterwards, sit down and enjoy the lunch you prepared. Enjoy this afternoon as you wish; take a dip in the pool or simply relax on the terrace with a cool, refreshing drink. This evening we meet for our final dinner together. Day 9 Tuscany - Florence After a relaxing start to the day we make our way to the Castle of Verrazzano, located on a hilltop in the Chianti Classico area, the first grape growing and wine producing area in the world. After visiting the castle and its historical ageing cellars, we taste a selection of wines and then enjoy lunch together, which has been prepared using ingredients from local producers. After lunch we return to Florence where our tour finishes. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 13 April - 19 October 2015

9 days
FROM $3,045*
9 days FROM $3,045*

Flavours of Northern Croatia & Slovenia, 8 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Ljubljana - Lake Bled - Postojna Caves - Opatija - Istrian Peninsula - Plitvice Lakes - Zagreb - Zagorje Croatia is as diverse as its landscapes and on this unique tour of northern Croatia and Slovenia we discover places beyond the usual tourist trail such as the enchanting landscapes of Hrvatsko Zagorje and the surrounding green rolling hills, fertile plains and hilltops of the Istrian Peninsula. Along the way we will taste some of the succulent culinary specialties of this region as well as Croatia's excellent array of wines and award-wining olive oils. Day 1 Ljubljana - Lake Bled From Ljubljana we drive towards Vintgar Gorge. This 1.6 km long gorge carves its way through the vertical rocks of the Hom and Bort hills and is graced by the Radovna river with its waterfalls, pools and rapids. The trail leads you over wooden bridges and Zumr's galleries, and ends with a bridge overlooking the mighty 13m high Sum waterfall. On arrival in Lake Bled, we have some time at leisure before we enjoy a welcome dinner together. Day 2 Lake Bled Enjoy a relaxing tour of Lake Bled, one of Slovenia's most picturesque sites. With a small, clear blue lake, an island with a small church in the middle and a medieval castle, the setting is simply beautiful. Today's excursion includes a boat ride to the island and a visit to Bled Castle. The terrace of the castle affords wonderful views of the lake and surrounding mountains - on a clear day you can see Slovenia's highest mountain, Mount Triglav. Tonight enjoy an evening at leisure. Day 3 Lake Bled - Postojna Caves - Opatija We visit Postojna Caves, the largest underground cave system in Europe. Aboard the cave train admire the size and splendour of this fascinating underground world, where the geological past is recorded in a unique manner. Next we drive to Predjama Castle, a picturesque and mysterious renaissance castle, which has been perched in the middle of a vertical 123-metre high cliff for more than 700 years. We continue our journey to Opatija, where we stay for the next three nights. Our day ends with dinner in this delightful town often called the 'Croatian Nice' for its charms and beauty. Day 4 Opatija - Istrian Peninsula - Opatija We explore the magnificent Istrian Peninsula, also known as Terra Magica, with its lush forests, vineyards, olive groves and medieval hilltop villages. We visit the village of Draguc followed by the captivating hilltop town of Motovun, which is surrounded by vineyards from which the finest Istrian wines are produced. After visiting a local wine maker for a delicious tasting of wine and olive oil, we spend the rest of the day wandering along the narrow medieval streets of Rovinj, a picturesque Mediterranean coastal village. Enjoy an evening at leisure in patija. Day 5 Opatija Enjoy a morning stroll through the local fruit and vegetable market in Rijeka, then continue to Trsat Castle, for magnificent views over the Kvarner Bay. After stopping for lunch in the village of Permani, we visit the Museum of Traditional Masks in Kastav. On our return to Opatija, we enjoy an evening at leisure. Day 6 Opatija - Plitvice Lakes Today is dedicated to exploring the UNESCO protected Plitvice Lakes National Park, a unique area of 16 remarkable cascading lakes. Our local guide will explain how and why the lakes change from an emerald green to an azure blue colour as we walk one of the designated trails. This evening we stay overnight in the Plitvice Lakes region. Day 7 Plitvice Lakes - Zagreb Picturesque waterfalls are the theme this morning as we travel to Rastoke to see the Buk, Hrvoje, and Vilina Kosa waterfalls and walk around the 300-year-old village, which offers a unique blend of historical, ethnographic and architectural heritage. Continue to the enchanting Plesivica region for a wine tasting efore visiting the small town of Samobor. With covered bridges, a trickling brook and a beautifully preserved medieval ambience, Samobor feels a world apart from Croatia's busy capital. In Zagreb, enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 8 Zagreb - Zagorje - Zagreb Travelling north, explore the enchanting landscapes of Croatia's hinterland. We visit the ethno village of Kumrovec, the birthplace of the Yugoslavian Marshal Josip Broz Tito, as well as the beautiful 13th century Trakoscan Castle and the small town of Krapina, the site of the world's largest Neanderthal discoveries. After a full day of excursions in Hrvatsko Zagorje we return to Zagreb where our tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 14 May - 3 September 2015

8 days
FROM $3,085*
8 days FROM $3,085*

Highlights of Britain, 9 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: London - Oxford - Cotswolds - Worcester -Ironbridge - Chester - Snowdonia National Park - Caernarfon Castle - Chester - Haworth - York - Lake District - Scottish Borders - Abbotsford House - Rosslyn Chapel - Edinburgh This comprehensive journey is tailored to those who want to fully experience British history and culture. In England wecelebrate 'Great British Puddings' at the world-famous Pudding Club, visit Yorkshire's finest historic house and explore Bronte and Wordsworth country. In north Wales we wind our way through the hidden valleys of Snowdonia National Park and in southern Scotland we visit mysterious castles and stately homes. Day 1 London - Oxford - Cotswolds After London, there is no better introduction to England than Oxford, the 'city of dreaming spires'. We visit one of its imposing university colleges, before enjoying a guided walk of the city. Later we drive to a traditional 18th century woollen mill in the Cotswolds, to learn about the industry that is the cornerstone of Cotswold heritage. Later drive through quaint villages of local stone and thatch to our delightful Cotswolds accommodation. Tonight we will have dinner together at the world famous. Day 2 Cotswolds - Worcester -Ironbridge - Chester This morning we drive to Worcester to visit one of England's quietest but most interesting cathedrals, where you will see the tomb of the infamous King John. We continue north to the town of Much Wenlock - the birthplace of the modern Olympics, followed by a short drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ironbridge, to see the first arch bridge in the world to be made out of cast iron. We finish our day in Chester. Day 3 Chester - Snowdonia National Park - Caernarfon Castle - Chester Today we travel into Wales to explore Snowdonia National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty. We experience narrow mountain passes, see gushing streams, cascading waterfalls, sheep covered uplands and verdant and hidden valleys that some claim to be the resting place of the real King Arthur. Later we visit Caernarfon Castle, a 13th century fortress built on the village waterfront, before we make our way back to Chester for an evening at leisure. Day 4 Chester - Haworth - York This morning we explore Chester, with its medieval walls and Rows - Britain's first shopping mall. Our journey continues east across England's backbone, the Pennine Hills, to the Bronte Parsonage at Haworth. After seeing what inspired the sisters to write the likes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, we continue to York, the historic capital of northern England. Day 5 York This morning our tour leader takes us through the old city pointing out its highlights including the city walls, York Minster, the York Castle Museum, the Jorvik (Viking) Centre, Clifford's Tower and the famous Shambles. This afternoon you have free time to further explore York independently. (B) Day 6 York - Castle Howard - Lake District Today we drive to the magnificent 18th century Castle Howard, Yorkshire's finest historic house and estate, which has been home to the Howard family for over 300 years. We then enjoy a scenic drive through the wonderful Yorkshire Dales National Park, before arriving at Lake Windermere, our base for the next two nights. Day 7 Lake District Today we enjoy one of Britain's most beautiful national parks. Crossing Lake Windermere, our first stop is Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm. Afterwards, we wind our way through the beautiful back roads of this striking region, stopping for lunch in one of the countless picturesque villages in the area. This afternoon, we visit Dove Cottage, once home to the poet William Wordsworth and the inspiration for his Daffodils poem. After a short cruise on the lake we return to our accommodation. Day 8 Lake District - Scottish Borders Driving through the lovely scenery of Cumbria, we follow Hadrian's Wall until we reach Birdoswald Roman Fort, one of the best Roman sites on the wall. Later we travel further north to the Scottish Borders and enjoy a traditional three-course Scottish banquet together tonight. Day 9 Scottish Borders - Abbotsford House - Rosslyn Chapel - Edinburgh Travelling north we briefly stop for photos at the ruins of Hermitage Castle before visiting Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott. Designed by Scott himself, the house holds an impressive collection of historic relics including Rob Roy's gun and sword. This afternoon we visit one of the most mysterious sites in Scotland, Rosslyn Chapel, which was featured in the bestselling film The Da Vinci Code. Our final destination is Edinburgh, where our tour comes to an end. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 9 April - 8 October 2015

9 days
FROM $3,265*
9 days FROM $3,265*

Slow Food Tour of Puglia, 6 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Bari - Martina Franca - Castellana Caves - Alberobello - Cisternino - Ostuni - Masseria Ferri - Gallipoli - Otranto - Castro Marina - Depressa - Lecce - Matera - Bari The Slow Food concept is a simple one - everyone should have access to, and enjoy, food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. On this Slow Food tour of Puglia, you will have the unique chance to sample several Slow Food Presidia products - high-quality, traditional foods at the risk of 'extinction' - and other local delicacies from recommended quality producers. Alongside tasting wonderful produce you will also discover a region of overwhelming beauty and history, filled with magnificent caves, imposing castles, ancient cathedrals and noble palaces. Day 1 Bari - Martina Franca Our journey begins with a walking tour of Bari to admire the Norman Swabian Castle, an extensive and formidable structure that guarded the city for centuries, the Basilica of Saint Nicholas and the cathedral. After some free time to explore Piazza Mercantile and Piazza Ferrarese, we continue to Gioia del Colle for wine tasting at Tenuta Patruno Perniola. The principle aim of the farm is to preserve, the Primitivo di Gioia del Colle local vine, whose origins date back to the Peucetii times. After checking into our hotel in Martina France, we drive to Ristorante la Tana for a welcome dinner. Dedicated to the Slow Food Presidia of Apulia, this is a fantastic introduction to the authentic cuisine of the region. Day 2 Martina Franca - Castellana Caves - Alberobello - Martina Franca This morning visit the wonderful Castellana Caves. Situated at a depth of approximately 70 metres, these caves are some of the most amazing natural wonders of Puglia. In Alberobello we see many examples of the prehistoric dry stone dwellings known as 'Trulli', an exceptional example of vernacular architecture. At Trattoria La Cantina we enjoy a traditional Murgia cuisine lunch, accompanied by local wines before returning to Martina Franca for a leisurely stroll around the beautiful historical town centre. Day 3 Martina Franca - Cisternino - Ostuni - Masseria Ferri - Gallipoli Today we travel to Cisternino, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. We visit the Old Town centre and enjoy lunch at the Taverna della Torre. Here the delights of Capocollo, a traditional Italian cold cut of pork, and wines from the Puglia region will be served. After a visit to the white village of Ostuni we stop at the splendid Masseria Ferri to try some of their cheeses, including Mozzarella, Caciocavallo and Tarallini. Our journey continues to Gallipoli, where we enjoy an evening at leisure. Day 4 Gallipoli - Otranto - Castro Marina - Depressa - Gallipoli Morning departure for Otranto, a pretty harbour town, overlooking the turquoise Adriatic coast. After some free time to stroll around the town to inspect the Old City with its famous cathedral, we continue to Castro Marina to visit the Zinzulusa Caves, one of the most renowned cave systems on the Salento coast. Later we explore the vineyards and taste wines from the Azienda Castel di Salve winery, which focuses on growing indigenous grapes such as Negroamaro, Primitivo, Malvasia Nera di Lecce and Aleatico. Day 5 Gallipoli - Lecce - Gallipoli After exploring Gallipoli, with its splendid and characteristic historical town centre, we visit Frantoio Ipogeo, an ancient underground olive mill carved from the stone that lay beneath the soil in the 1700's. Later enjoy a guided walking tour of the ancient town of Lecce, known the 'Baroque Pearl' for the unique, rich and exuberant decorations that seem to hide the city's buildings rather than decorate them. Along the way we stop to try the breads, pizzas and the famous Pucce Leccesi (a traditional bread with olives, tomatoes and other vegetables). Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner at Osteria degli Spiriti, one of the most typical regional restaurants of the area, before returning to Gallipoli. Day 6 Gallipoli - Matera - Bari Our first stop today is in Matera, known as the 'City of Stones'. This city is the most extraordinary and intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region. The oldest sassi (ancient homes carved right into the rock) are about 7,000 years old. After a light lunch at Azienda Dragone winery, we return to Bari where the tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 21 April - 6 October 2015

6 days
FROM $3,295*
6 days FROM $3,295*

A Scottish Journey, 8 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: Edinburgh - St Andrews - Ballater - Cawdor Castle - Culloden - Inverness - Loch Ness - Plockton - Isle of Skye - Fort William - sle of Mull - Isle of Mull - Stirling - Edinburgh Scotland is one of the most beautiful and historically fascinating countries in the world. From refined Edinburgh to thriving Inverness, you'll find gentle rolling hills, dramatic coasts, towering mountains, breath-taking lochs and heather covered highlands. Its landscape is richly peppered with ancient castles, villages and abbeys that tell the tale of its often turbulent history. Beyond the mainland, the Western Isles retain much of their Norse character and offer some of Scotland's most seductive scenery. Day 1 Edinburgh - St Andrews - Ballater Departing Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, we travel to the picturesque fishing villages of the East Neuk region. We continue to St Andrews, whose medieval centre, with its narrow alleys and cobbled streets, leads to the now ruined cathedral and the adjacent church of St Regulus. Later we travel north towards the picturesque Victorian village of Ballater. On arrival we enjoy our first dinner together. Day 2 Ballater - Cawdor Castle - Culloden - Inverness We travel through the beautiful Cairngorms National Park to Cawdor Castle, a superb fairy-tale castle dating from the 14th century. Explore the castle and its gardens before we continue to Clava Cairns, an exceptionally preserved prehistoric burial site, built about 4,000 years ago. At Culloden, we visit the museum which brings the famous battle that took place here vividly to life. Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, is our final destination today. Day 3 Inverness After a leisurely start to the day we take a stroll through one of Scotland's smallest cities where we learn the history of its iconic landmarks. At the Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre, discover the history of tartan throughout the centuries and see the Highland dress worn by Liam Neeson in Rob Roy and Mel Gibson in Braveheart. The rest of the day is yours to explore independently, go shopping or simply relax. Day 4 Inverness - Loch Ness - Plockton - Isle of Skye Today we travel to the beautifully mysterious Loch Ness, the largest body of fresh water in Britain and known around the world for 'Nessie', the legendary Loch Ness Monster. In Wester Ross we visit Plockton, a charming little village comprised of neatly painted cottages and a tiny harbour, before enjoying a seafood lunch experience in the Kyle of Lochalsh. Later today we drive across the bridge to the stunning Isle of Skye, our base for the next two nights. Day 5 Isle of Skye Today is devoted to the Isle of Skye, renowned for its incredible scenery, wildlife, history, and some of Skye's most startling geological features including the extraordinary Quiraing, the famous Kilt Rock and the spectacular Old Man of Storr. During the day we will also have the opportunity to visit Portree, and enjoy some whisky tasting. Day 6 Isle of Skye - Fort William - Isle of Mull Travelling along the sands of Mallaig and Morar we pass through glorious Scottish Highland scenery and see Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain. We also visit the beautiful village of Glenfinnan, where "Bonnie Prince Charlie" raised his standard in 1745. Travelling by way of historic Fort William, we continue along the back roads of this region before catching the ferry to the Isle of Mull, the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides and our base for the next two nights. Day 7 Isle of Mull & Isle of Iona Today is dedicated to exploring the isles of Mull & Iona. We travel to the charming village of Fionnphort, which is famed worldwide for its unique red granite. We take the ferry from here to Iona, a tiny island steeped in history and renowned for its natural beauty and serenity. After visiting Iona Abbey and Nunnery, one of Scotland's most sacred and historical sites, we return to Mull to explore the 13th century Duart Castle, dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking the rugged coast. Day 8 Isle of Mull - Stirling - Edinburgh After returning by ferry to the Scottish mainland, we travel to Stirling, known as the heritage capital of Scotland, where the Wars of Independence were fought and won and three centuries of monarchs ruled. Here we wander through the old town and enter the spectacular cliff-top castle. On returning to Edinburgh our tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 12 April - 11 October 2015

8 days
FROM $3,370*
8 days FROM $3,370*

Champagne, Burgundy & The Rhone Valley, 7 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS:Paris - Reims - Ay - Champagne - Chablis - Beaune - Lyon - Rhone Valley - Lyon This wonderful journey takes us to some of France's greatest wine regions. From sparkling champagne to the fragrant whites of Chablis and the tannic reds of the Rhone valley, we not only taste these regional treats but also enjoy the wonderful landscapes in which vines have grown for centuries. Stay in charming towns rich in heritage, try superb French cuisine and learn about regional wines from local experts. This is a fantastic in-depth tour for lovers of good food, wine and culture. Day 1 Paris - Reims - Ay Our tour departs Paris this morning for the drive to Reims, the Champagne region's main city. During WWI most of the medieval city was destroyed. It was rebuilt in the 1920s in an art deco style. Fortunately, the wonderful Cathedral of Our Lady remains and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Before travelling to Ay we have the opportunity to visit a traditional, family-run champagne house, where we learn how this bubbly wine is produced. We finish the visit with a champagne tasting. This evening we enjoy a welcome dinner together in Ay, a quiet town in the Champagne- Ardenne region. Day 2 Champagne Today is devoted to Champagne as we explore this incredible region in more depth. Our first stop is Epernay often referred to as the 'Capital of Champagne' as its famous street, Avenue de Champagne, is lined with many famous champagne producers. Later we drive to La Cote des Blancs, a chardonnay grape growing region, where we stop at a small champagne producer. Here, we have the chance to walk around the property and look at the vineyards as our local expert explains how they grow the vines and the various local appellations. Next we visit their production area, before we finally sit down together and enjoy a glass or two of champagne. This afternoon we take a leisurely drive through the Montagne de Reims, known for its Pinot Noir, before returning to Ay for an evening at leisur. Day 3 Ay - Chablis - Beaune Today we travel south to Chablis, one of the most famous white wine regions in the world. Here we visit a traditional cellar where you will be able to taste local wines. We drive on to Beaune, which is considered to be the "Capital of Burgundy wines". Nestled between prestigious vineyards, this ancient town is bursting with boutique shops, wine stores and fabulous French bistros. We have dinner together tonight in one if Beaune's many quality restaurants. Day 4 Beaune This morning, we walk through the vineyards of Beaune with a local expert, to learn about the history of this celebrated wine region and enjoy wine tasting in a local cellar. In the afternoon, we explore the pretty town of Beaune and enjoy a guided tour of the Hotel-Dieu (Hospices de Beaune). The rest of the day is at leisure to stroll through the cobblestone streets lined with excellent eateries at your own pace, to marvel at the beautiful medieval half-timbered houses and sample local produce and fine wines. Day 5 Beaune - Lyon From Beaune we travel along the beautiful Route des Vins. Our first stop today is in the medieval and picturesque village of Brancion before continuing to the small town of Paray-le-Monial on the River Bourbince. Here we visit the Romanesque basilica, including its cloisters and gardens, and admire the Renaissance-style town hall. Driving south, we stop at some charming, quaint villages before reaching Lyon, the Gourmet capital of France - our base for the next two nights. Enjoy an evening at leisure to wander through the beautiful city centre and soak up the lively atmosphere. Day 6 Lyon - Rhone Valley - Lyon This morning we explore the Rhone valley where the vineyards are some of the oldest in France. We stop in Tain l'Hermitage, home of the famous Hermitage wines, to enjoy a private tasting session at the Maison Chapoutier, where the sommelier will explain the differences between their refreshing Saint Peray and aromatic Hermitage Rouge. We drive to Tournon-sur-Rhone to admire its historic centre and the pedestrian chain-bridge. Continuing north, our final stop is at a well-respected Condrieu wine producer. Our last dinner together is in a traditional Bouchon Lyonnais, where we enjoy tasty food in a convivial ambience. Day 7 Lyon Our tour finishes after breakfast. You may wish to further explore this wonderful city at your leisure. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 10 May - 27 September 2015

7 days
FROM $3,385*
7 days FROM $3,385*

Edinburgh to London, 8 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS:Edinburgh - Berwickupon - Tweed - Lindisfarne - Alnwick - Durham - Staithes - Whitby - North Yorkshire Moors - York - Peak - Chatsworth House - Blue John Cavern - Peak District - Lincoln - Stamford - Sandringham - Cambridge - Newmarket - Clavering - London English roots may be traced back to eastern England where the Celts, Romans, Angles and Vikings all left their marks. The land is rich in contrasting history, architecture and cultural tradition. Back-Roads Touring provides a comprehensive insight into this important area. Explore the cathedral cities of Durham, York and Lincoln, drive through the moorlands of Yorkshire, escape the crowds in one of England's best-loved national parks in the Peak District and wind our way along Cambridge's cobbled streets to see world-famous historic colleges. Day 1 Edinburgh - Berwickupon - Tweed - Lindisfarne - Alnwick Departing Edinburgh, we travel south to Berwick-upon-Tweed, England's most dramatic walled town. Our next stop is the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which is reached by a causeway at low tide. At Lindisfarne Priory, marvel at the ornate carvings on the extensive ruins of the monastic buildings. Later we explore Alnwick Castle, which is home to the 12th Duke of Northumberland and the film location for Harry Potter's Hogwarts. Day 2 Alnwick - Durham - Staithes - Whitby This morning we explore Durham Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in the late 11th century, it is the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England. After stopping in Staithes, once the largest fishing port in the north east of England, we continue to Whitby. Here we visit the museum chronicling a young Captain Cook's training as a seaman before embarking on his epic voyages of discovery. Day 3 Whitby - North Yorkshire Moors - York - Peak District Driving through the imposing North Yorkshire Moors, we make our way to York, the historic capital of northern England. After a short orientation walk, to familiarise ourselves with some of the main sights, you will have plenty of time to explore this fascinating walled city independently. Later we travel into the Peak District National Park, our base for the next two nights. Day 4 Peak District - Chatsworth House - Blue John Cavern - Peak District The Peak District is rich in history and is home to some of England's finest scenery. Stunning Chatsworth House is the perfect place for a morning stroll in the beautiful gardens and the Blue John Cavern is a fascinating network of caves to explore. Blue John is Britain's rarest mineral. The beautiful stone is only found in one location in the world - the Peak District National Park. Day 5 Peak District - Lincoln Today is dedicated to Lincoln. After visiting the Cathedral Quarter to see the iconic towers of Lincoln Cathedral, Ellis Mill, Jew's House and Lincoln Castle, the rest of the day is yours at leisure for independent exploration in this lovely city. Day 6 Lincoln - Stamford - Sandringham - Cambridge Proclaimed by Sir Walter Scott as "the finest stone town in England", Stamford has over 600 listed buildings. As we walk around this prosperous market town we will see many interesting sights including the Arts Centre. Built in 1768 it is one of the oldest provincial theatres in England. In Sandringham, we see the estate which has been passed down through four generations of the British monarchy. It is now the private Norfolk retreat of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. In Cambridge we enjoy dinner together. Day 7 Cambridge This morning we take in the beauty of the "Backs" of Cambridge University while drifting along the River Cam on a traditional punt. The rest of the day is yours at leisure. For a relatively small city, there are many things to do. We particularly recommend visiting the Round Church, one of only four round churches in Britain or exploring the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, one of the great secret delights of the city. Day 8 Cambridge - Newmarket - Clavering - London At the Newmarket National Stud we have the chance to see behind the scenes of a working thoroughbred stud farm. We then continue to The Cricketers at Clavering: a delightful 16th century English country inn, where Jamie Oliver grew up and worked in the kitchen for pocket money. After lunch at the inn we visit Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge in Epping Forest. The tour ends on arrival in London. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 22 April - 7 October 2015

8 days
FROM $3,395*
8 days FROM $3,395*

La Belle France, 9 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS:Paris - Honfleur - Normandy Back Country - Normandy Beaches - Bayeux - Mont St Michel - Dinan - Angers - Chinon - Chateau de Villandry - Chateau de Chenonceau - Montlouis-sur- Loire - Chartres - Paris This lovely tour takes in the north west of France which is rich in culture, cuisine and fine wines, magnificent architecture, breath-taking scenery and stunning chateaux. Explore Monet's Garden in Giverny, visit the Normandy Beaches to see firsthand where events of World War II unfolded, and then discover the Loire Valley, renowned for its magnificent chateaux, historic villages and splendid food and wine. Day 1 Paris - Honfleur Departing Paris, our first stop this morning is the home of French Impressionist, Claude Monet, at Giverny in Normandy. The gardens inspired many of his paintings including the famous Water Lilies and the Japanese Footbridge series. Next we stop at the Abbey of St Wandrille de Fontenelle and visit the grounds and ruins of this building first constructed in the 7th century, before travelling to Honfleur, one of the best-preserved old ports in Normandy. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner together before we stroll around the old harbour. Day 2 Honfleur - Normandy Back Country - Honfleur Today begins with a scenic drive along the coast passing through Trouville and Deauville. We then head inland towards Normandy's 'back country', following the Route du Cidre towards Beuvron-en-Auge, voted one of the most beautiful villages of France. After, we sample some of the regions finest cider and calvados, before we make our way back to Honfleur. Day 3 Honfleur - Normandy Beaches - Bayeux Today we visit the Normandy Beaches, forever associated in our minds with the D-Day Landings of 1944. These beaches tell us a remarkable story and it is here that we see first-hand where events of World War II unfolded. This afternoon we visit the famous American War Cemetery at Collevillesur Mer. Our historic day concludes with a leisurely drive to Bayeux. Tonight, we enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant. Day 4 Bayeux Explore Bayeux at your leisure today. This medieval town, with its cobbled streets and museums, is home to the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy and the world famous Bayeux Tapestry which you may wish to visit (own expense). The old town has retained its ancient character, and the narrow streets encourage visitors to browse in the many shops or to linger in the town's charming bistros. Day 5 Bayeux - Mont St Michel - Dinan This morning we travel across the Normandy countryside to Brittany. Today's highlight is Mont St Michel. Perched on a rocky islet this gothic style abbey was built between the 11th and 16th centuries and appears to rise from the surrounding waters. We continue on to Dinan, an attractive medieval town with fine old buildings, some dating back to the 13th century. This evening we enjoy dinner together in Dinan. Day 6 Dinan - Angers - Chinon Travelling towards the Loire Valley, renowned for its fairy-tale castles and splendid food and wine, our first port of call is Angers, a pretty town with a lively and welcoming atmosphere, widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in France, with many notable attractions. We visit its imposing moated castle before we make our way to Chinon; resting by the banks of the Vienne River, Chinon is a delightful medieval town steeped in history and rich with culture. Day 7 Chinon - Chateau de Villandry - Chinon This morning, we explore the imposing Chateau de Villandry, the last of the great chateaux of the Loire. Built during the Renaissance, the chateau's glorious landscaped gardens are some of the finest in France. On our return to Chinon, we taste some local wines with a regional producer. We have plenty of free time to further explore this lovely town at leisure this evening. Day 8 Chinon - Chateau de Chenonceau - Montlouis-sur- Loire Today we visit the Chateau de Chenonceau, with its beautiful arches spanning the Loire River, and we explore its exceptional museum and magnificent gardens. Later we travel to our stunning chateau accommodation where we learn the art of French cooking with one of the chateau's chefs. Our final meal together is the delicious dinner that we have helped to prepare. Day 9 Montlouis-sur-Loire - Chartres - Paris A fitting climax to our last day on tour is the celebrated cathedral of Chartres, incomparable anywhere in the world for its stained glass windows dating from the 13th century. Old Chartres' picturesque streets evoke the bustling activity of a medieval town of merchants and craftsmen. We return to Paris this afternoon where our tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 8 April - 28 October 2015

9 days
FROM $3,535*
9 days FROM $3,535*

Highlights of Northern Spain, 9 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Barcelona - Gerona - El Port de la Selva - Port Lligat - Cadaques - Besalu - Ripoll - Vic - Barbastro - Jaca - Leyre - Olite - Laguardia - La Rioja - Laguardia - San Sebastian This nine-day journey showcases the best of northern Spain, an undiscovered gem in this culturally diverse, vibrant country. See the natural beauty of the Costa Brava, travel through traditional villages on rolling green hills flanked by mist-covered mountains, taste wines in La Rioja, one of the most famous and prestigious wine producing areas in Spain and explore San Sebastian, the jewel of northern Spain's Basque country. Day 1 Barcelona - Gerona - El Port de la Selva Our journey begins with a short panoramic tour of Barcelona to see the main highlights of the city before heading north towards Gerona, the ideal place to sit and enjoy a coffee at the 18th century Placa de la Independencia after exploring the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Later we drive to El Port de la Selva, which retains an atmosphere of seclusion and local authenticity. Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner together. Day 2 El Port de la Selva - Port Lligat - Cadaques - El Port de la Selva Travel by local taxi to the Salvador Dali house-museum in Port Lligat. This fascinating labyrinthine structure was formed by Salvador Dali and his wife using a series of fisherman's cabins. After visiting the artist's workshop, the library and the gardens, we have some free time in Cadaques. In this town with an exclusive, arty feel, there are plenty of boutiques and galleries to discover. Later explore El Port de la Selva at your own pace. Day 3 El Port de la Selva - Besalu - Ripoll - Vic After two nights on the Costa Brava, we spend the next three nights heading west across the mountainous north. This morning we stop in the medieval village of Besalu, a great example of romanesque architecture and a historical Jewish Quarter seemingly forgotten in time. Later, in the town of Ripoll, we see the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll, considered to be one of the most important monastic centres in medieval Catalonia. Our destination today is Vic. Day 4 Vic - Barbastro This beautiful and more remote corner of Catalonia is dotted with hilltop fortifications surrounded by stunning parks and rock formations. Today we continue west along the foot of the Pyrenees, stopping to explore more remote medieval villages en route to Barbastro where we will spend the night. Day 5 Barbastro - Jaca - Leyre In Jaca, known as the 'Pearl of the Pyrenees' and an important stop along the Pilgrim's Route to Santiago de Compostela, we see the citadel, a great example of 16th century military architecture, the 11th century romanesque cathedral and the 15th century clock tower. Our final destination today is the converted 9th century Monastery of Leyre, still occupied by Benedictine monks. Day 6 Leyre - Olite - Laguardia We head into the rolling hills and plains of Navarre, through fields of wheat and vineyards, to the medieval town of Olite which was the seat of the court of Navarre. Visit the fairy tale 15th century castle, where you'll have time to explore its hidden corners and towers with magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. In Estella, you have free time to enjoy lunch at one of the many excellent local restaurants, before our journey continues along the Camino de Santiago to the world famous wine region of La Rioja. Day 7 La Rioja Today is dedicated to visiting remarkable wineries and improving our knowledge of La Rioja's wine history and culture. The cultivation of wine in northern Spain was brought here as early as the 11th century by pilgrims from major French winemaking regions doing the camino. We'll visit a family run vineyard in the morning followed by the famous Marques de Riscal in the afternoon. A pioneer producer, Marques de Riscal wines have earned some of the most distinguished international awards and can be enjoyed around the world. Later we return to Laguardia for an evening at leisure. Day 8 Laguardia - San Sebastian Today we drive north to San Sebastian, the jewel of northern Spain's Basque Country. Here you will have free time to explore the Old Town, where we recommend that you sample its world famous pintxos for lunch. Hire a bicycle or stroll along the bay this afternoon before a farewell meal together this evening. Day 9 San Sebastian Our tour ends after breakfast this morning. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 11 May - 28 September 2015

9 days
FROM $3,645*
9 days FROM $3,645*

A Taste of Bordeaux, 11 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS:Bordeaux - Medoc - Bayonne - Biarritz - Midi-Pyrenees - Carcassonne - Albi - Sarlat - Vezere Valley - Saint Emilion - Bordeaux Uncover the delights and secrets of the south west of France on this very special tour. Enjoy wonderful cuisine, unwind while travelling along the Atlantic coast and marvel at the prehistoric art of the Lascaux Caves and the mighty medieval stronghold of Carcassonne. This tour would not be complete without the taste sensation of Bordeaux - the majestic wines of Medoc and St Emilion... Enjoy a taste of the real France Day 1 Bordeaux - Medoc Added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2007, Bordeaux's historic sector offers stunning classical and neoclassical architecture, charming squares and fantastic museums and art galleries. This morning our tour leader will introduce us to some of the highlights of Bordeaux before we head out of the city and in to wine country. We venture through Medoc, where you will have the opportunity to try exceptional local wines and learn about the history of this region. Day 2 Medoc - Bayonne - Biarritz Today we travel south to Bayonne, the cultural capital of the Basque country. This beautiful fortified city is rich in history, heritage and culture. We then make our way to the nearby beach resort of Biarritz, one of Europe's most stylish cities, offering fine beaches, medieval churches, and numerous restaurants. Day 3 Biarritz - Midi-Pyrenees From Biarritz we head east stopping in Pau, a charming town with an impressive castle, for a few quick photos. We arrive through the peaceful Midi-Pyrenees region, stopping en route in the spiritual small town of Lourdes. In Gavarnie, admire the stunning views across the mountains and the valleys, before we arrive at our characteristically rustic accommodation. Day 4 Midi-Pyrenees - Carcassonne Continuing through the Midi-Pyrenees, we arrive at some picturesque Bastides. These medieval towns, in the south west region of France, are one of the largest collections of well-preserved medieval townscapes still to be found anywhere in Europe. Driving through the Cathare country, sample the local Blanquette fizzy wine, before reaching Carcassonne, a mighty fortified city that stands majestically overlooking the landscapes of the Languedoc region and the distant Pyrenees. Day 5 Carcassonne Today is at leisure to discover Carcassonne at your own pace. Explore this magical town and everything it has to offer or simply relax in a street-side cafe to savour the sights and sounds of this beautiful town. From the Bastide Saint-Louis to the medieval walls, Carcassonne offers a wealth of monuments to visit and explore. Day 6 Carcassonne - Albi - Sarlat This morning we make our way to the historic city of Albi. This small town is famous for its 13th century gothic Sainte Cecile Cathedral and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. Later we will arrive in the delightful town of Sarlat, our base for the next three nights. Day 7 Sarlat - Vezere Valley - Sarlat Today we go further into the Dordogne, a beautiful region full of chateaux, medieval towns and villages. We head first to the prehistoric Lascaux Caves, before continuing to the delightful village of Les Eyzies, in the heart of the Vezere Valley. For an unforgettable glimpse into our distant past, we follow the 'Royal Road', which winds between the river and the rocks, making a final stop at a local truffle farm. Day 8 Sarlat Sarlat is one of the most beautiful cities in France. An architectural gem, built in the golden stone of the surrounding countryside, it has stood the test of time despite a long and troubled history. Today we visit the Old Town lined with impeccably restored stone buildings. This afternoon we drive to Beynac-et-Cazenac, famous for its typical honey-coloured houses. Here we visit the impressive chateau, perched high on a cliff and overlooking the Dordogne valley. This evening we meet up for a final dinner together in Sarlat. Day 9 Sarlat - Saint Emilion - Bordeaux Our first stop today is Saint Emilion, an attractive little town of yellow limestone with narrow streets and old timber-framed houses. Surrounded by vineyards, this region is renowned for its 'reds'. We will have the opportunity to taste some of the local wines before arriving in Bordeaux where our tour comes to an end. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 30 April - 8 October 2015

9 days
FROM $3,745*
9 days FROM $3,745*

Spanish Inspiration, 10 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Madrid - Toledo - Valdepenas - Cordoba - Seville - Jerez de la Frontera - Ronda - Granada - Ubeda - Baeza - Madrid Spain has perhaps the richest cultural heritage of any European country, particularly in the southern region of Andalusia, which boasts a fantastic blend of Roman, Arab and Catholic influences. This journey of discovery travels on the back roads and mountain passes of Andalusia visiting well-known sights and lesser-known gems along the way. Day 1 Madrid - Toledo From Madrid we head south to Toledo, known locally as the "Imperial City", a Spanish capital where hundreds of years of history unfold. Here we see the magnificent cathedral as well as the Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca and the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes. This evening enjoy dinner in a traditional Spanish restaurant. Day 2 Toledo - Valdepenas - Cordoba We travel south across the vast plains of La Mancha, famous for its delicious wines, manchego cheese and - of course, Don Quixote. When we reach Valdepenas we visit a local bodega to sample wines and tapas before continuing to the enchanting city of Cordoba, where we spend the next two nights. Day 3 Cordoba In Cordoba we begin our journey back in time to the Al-Andalus from over a thousand years ago with a walking tour and a visit to the Mezquita, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This afternoon explore the Old Town's narrow streets and private patios at your leisure, or perhaps pamper yourself this evening with a visit to an Arabic bathhouse. Day 4 Cordoba - Seville In Seville, we enjoy a tapas cooking class and learn how to make the perfect sangria. This afternoon explore Seville at your own pace before preparing for an unforgettable Andalusian flamenco show. Day 5 Seville Explore the fascinating and vibrant city of Seville this morning. Highlights include a stroll through he Jewish Quarter to the impressive cathedral and the Alcazar de Sevilla, the oldest royal palace in Europe that is still in use today. After some time at leisure we meet up again for a tapas dinner with a contemporary twist. Day 6 Seville - Jerez de la Frontera - Ronda Leaving Seville behind, we head to the Costa de la Luz where we stop for lunch. Located on the Atlantic Coast it is a popular seaside destination for Spaniards and famous for its amazing seafood. In Jerez de la Frontera, famously the hub of sherry wine production, we discover the secrets of sherry wine with a guided tour of one of the oldest family wineries in the town. As well as an exclusive tasting we will also gain exclusive access to the bodega's private art collection. Our final destination today is Ronda, a beautiful town perched on the edge of a deep canyon cut out by the River Guadalevin. Day 7 Ronda - Granada After a free morning to explore Ronda's ancient streets, we continue east to the unforgettable city of Granada, which was the last stronghold of the Moorish empire in southern Spain until it finally fell to the Catholic kings in 1492. Enjoy an evening at leisure in Granada. Day 8 Granada Our time this morning is dedicated to the magnificent Alhambra, a breath-taking Moorish palace and fortress perched on top of a steep hill adjacent to the city centre. A true tribute to the beauty of North African architecture in Andalusia, the Alhambra is a huge network of beautiful rooms, patios and gardens. The rest of today is for you to explore Granada at your own pace. Day 9 Granada - Ubeda - Baeza Today we explore Ubeda and Baeza. Situated just six miles apart, both towns have an outstanding ensemble of 16th and 17th century renaissance buildings, and have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Nicknamed "queen" (Ubeda) and "lady" (Baeza) by the brilliant poet Antonio Machado, their quiet streets and plazas are lined with beautiful Spanish renaissance palaces. After an olive oil tasting we continue to our traditional 17th century mansion hotel where we enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 10 Baeza - Madrid This morning we leave Baeza and transfer back to Madrid. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 29 April - 18 October 2015

10 days
FROM $3,965*
10 days FROM $3,965*

Ireland - The Emerald Isle, 12 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Dublin - Belfast - Derry - North Irish Coast - Sligo - Connemara - Galway - The Burren - Dingle - Kenmare - Blarney - Kinsale - Cork - Blarney - Tipperary - Kilkenny - Dublin This fascinating tour combines the best-known icons of the 'Emerald Isle' with lesser known local gems. Journey through this charismatic country steeped in history, with wild open vistas, spectacular coastlines and picturesque villages. Explore the best of Northern Ireland including the Titanic Quarter in Belfast and the Giant's Causeway. In southern Ireland explore the iconic destinations of the Inishowen Peninsula, Connemara, the Dingle Peninsula and the Wicklow Mountains with free time to relax in Galway, Dingle, Blarney and Kilkenny. Day 1 Dublin - Belfast At the prehistoric site of Newgrange (entry to the tomb is conditional on availability) we have the chance to step back into the mists of time. Next we visit the site of the Battle of the Boyne and then the Hill of Tara, historically the foremost spiritual and political centre of Ireland. This evening we enjoy a welcome dinner together in Belfast. Day 2 Belfast - Derry After this morning's escorted tour of Belfast's political murals on a Famous Belfast Black Cab tour we have time to visit the Titanic Museum. This afternoon we visit the Giant's Causeway, the jewel in the crown on the beautiful coast of Antrim before arriving in Derry. Day 3 Derry - North Irish Coast - Derry After a guided walk along the ancient city walls of Derry, we visit Grianan of Aileach, an Iron Age fort offering stunning views over the nearby lochs. Our coastal drive takes us to the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal and the Isle of Doagh Visitor Centre where we hear an alternative view of the devastating Irish Famine. Day 4 Derry - Sligo Our day commences at the Ulster - American Folk Park, which examines why two million people left Ulster for the New World. We then stop n Belleek, home to Ireland's oldest pottery, and pass through County Fermanagh to County Sligo and W.B. Yeats country, where we visit sites associated with the great poet, including Drumcliffe Church and Parkes Castle. Day 5 Sligo - Connemara - Galway Enjoy a relaxing drive to the picturesque town of Westport before we visit the award-winning Connemara Heritage Centre, which offers an insight into the history and heritage of the region. We complete our journey today with a walking tour of the wonderful city of Galway. Day 6 Galway Today is free for you to explore Galway as you wish. Your guide will be on hand to offer advice on how to make the most of this fantastic city. Day 7 Galway - The Burren - Dingle Today we visit the picturesque fishing village of Kinvara and travel through the lunar-like landscape of the Burren before stopping at the prehistoric burial site of the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb. This afternoon we visit the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland's most iconic attractions. Day 8 Dingle Peninsula Around the Dingle Peninsula we uncover countless historical sites, ancient churches, stone forts and beautiful beaches before we visit the Blasket Islands Centre. This afternoon we have some free time in the beautiful town of Dingle. Day 9 Dingle - Kenmare - Blarney Today we visit the MacGillycuddy's Reeks, home to the highest peak in Ireland, and the Killarney Lakes. We take the mountain road from Killarney to the enchanting town of Kenmare, before we journey over the breathtaking Healy Pass to visit Bantry House, renowned for its magnificent setting. Day 10 Blarney - Kinsale - Cork - Blarney In Kinsale we enjoy a historical walking tour accompanied by a local guide. We make our way to the Jameson Midleton Distillery to learn about the production of whiskey and taste what is considered by many to be the finest whiskey in Ireland This evening we are free to explore Blarney's attractions. Day 11 Blarney - Tipperary - Kilkenny At the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland's most popular icons, see the ruins of a medieval cathedral, a beautiful romanesque church and a striking round tower. Next we travel through rural Tipperary to Kilkenny, Ireland's 'most perfect medieval city', where we have plenty of time to relax or explore the different sights here. Day 12 Kilkenny - Dublin Today we cross the Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough, one of the best preserved monastic sites in Ireland. We then travel through the wild terrain of the Wicklows to Sally Gap before we descend to the Powerscourt Estate. After exploring its beautiful formal gardens we will make the short journey to Dublin where our tour comes to an end. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 13 April - 5 October 2015

12 days
FROM $4,235*
12 days FROM $4,235*

A Taste of Scotland with Carolyn Rob, Former Royal Chef Military Tattoo, 5 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: Edinburgh - St Andrews - Ballater - Cairngorms National Park - Balmoral Castle & Ballater - Piltlochry - Edinburgh Taste the delights of Scottish cuisine with Carolyn Robb, the former executive chef to TRH Prince Charles and Princess Diana for eleven years. Meet with local producers for an insight into life in the Highlands where the economy depends on their royal visitors, enjoy a private dinner onboard the Royal Yacht Britannia and help Carolyn to prepare a special 'royal' dinner - a fitting end to this culinary tour. Day 1 Edinburgh Explore Edinburgh by foot and visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Scotland's official residence of The Queen. After a private tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia enjoy a sumptuous four course dinner based on a menu that Carolyn would've prepared for the royals in the past. Day 2 Edinburgh - St Andrews - Ballater Drive to St Andrews, where Prince William and Catherine "Kate" Middleton met while studying at Scotland's oldest university. Continue to the Royal Lochnager whisky distillery, a favourite of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The next three nights will be spent in Ballater, a picturesque Victorian village. Day 3 Cairngorms National Park Accompanied by a local foraging specialist, we 'pick' whatever wild produce is in season. Later we visit some wonderful local hand-crafted food producers for a tasting of local honey, cheeses, oatcakes and 'Aberdeen Rowies'. Day 4 Balmoral Castle & Ballater Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since 1848. After exploring the castle's gardens and the ballroom, we return to Ballater to pick up some ingredients for dinner. After helping Carolyn to prepare a special 'royal' dinner, we sit down to enjoy our farewell meal together. Day 5 Ballater - Piltlochry - Edinburgh In the bustling town of Pitlochry visit the power station and dam to see its 'salmon ladder', which helps the fish bypass the dam and enter Loch Faskally We then visit Dunkeld Smokery, a small artisan smokehouse that produces some of the finest smoked salmon you can buy. As we return to Edinburgh we spot the Pictish Stones dotted on the landscape. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

DepartingValid for select departure 19 April - 4 October 20

5 days
FROM $4,295*
5 days FROM $4,295*

Mountains, Lakes & Valleys of Switzerland, 9 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Zurich - Stein am Rhein - Konstanz - Arbon - Island of Reichenau - Unteruhldingen - Lindau - Liechtenstein - Chur - Mount Rigi - Muerren - Jungfraujoch - Bern - Eggiwil - Rhine Falls - Zurich A luxury Back-Roads' mini-coach, a boat, and tiny cog railway carriages that climb to the highest railway station in the world provide your transport on this tour. Switzerland is too good to miss with some of the best scenery in the world and picturesque, orderly towns and cities, which resemble the images on chocolate-boxes. Day 1 Zurich - Stein am Rhein - Konstanz - Arbon From Zurich we travel to the Schaffhausen region, which is becoming increasingly famous for its Pinot Noir grape. In Stein am Rhein, enjoy a private walking tour through some vineyards, followed by a tasting. Later we follow the Rhine River towards Konstanz, a university city located on Lake Constance, which has remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages. Enjoy some free time to discover the Old Town, before continuing to Arbon where we enjoy a welcome dinner together. Day 2 Arbon - Island of Reichenau - Unteruhldingen - Lindau - Arbon Our first visit today is the Island of Reichenau which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. We traverse it's long tree-lined boulevard connecting the island with the mainland and spend time exploring its varied landscapes. In Unteruhldingen, known as the village on stilts, we have the chance to discover what life was like during the Stone and Bronze ages. We cruise across Lake Constance to the charming Bavarian town of Lindau. After exploring this beautiful garden and island town, we return to Arbon for an evening at leisure. Day 3 Arbon - Liechtenstein - Chur This morning we travel to the principality of Liechtenstein, a small country that lies entirely within the Alps. We stop in Vaduz, the capital, and admire its castle, the home of the reigning prince. Our destination today is Chur, Switzerland's oldest city. Discover its charming Old Town and explore its quaint cobbled streets at your own pace for the rest of the day. Day 4 Chur - Lucerne In Lucerne we enjoy a delightful walking tour of this enchanting city. See the medieval Chapel Bridge, as well as the Museggmauer. At a local chocolatier, learn how chocolate originated and what made it into the delectable indulgence it is today. Day 5 Lucerne - Mount Rigi - Lucerne After a scenic boat ride from Lucerne to Vitznau, we board the cog railway, which was Europe's first-ever mountain railway, up to Mount Rigi. Known locally as the Queen of the Mountains, from the top we hope to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views over the Swiss Alps towards France and Germany. This afternoon we return to Lucerne by cable car and boat. Day 6 Lucerne - Muerren Today we embark on a scenic drive through the Swiss valleys to Muerren, a car-free village, only accessible by cable car. After a short walking tour, enjoy free time to explore the town independently before we meet for a cheese-fondue dinner. Day 7 Muerren - Jungfraujoch - Muerren The highlight of any tour to Switzerland is the railway journey to the Jungfrau. At 3454 metres this is Europe's highest altitude railway station, often referred to as the "Top of Europe". Declared a natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO, visitors can enjoy this incredible world of ice, snow and rock. Visit the impressive Ice Palace and experience panoramic views from the Sphinx Observation Terrace. Day 8 Muerren - Bern Today's journey takes us to Bern, the capital of Switzerland. The attraction of this city is its ambience, where the perfectly preserved medieval street plan has made it a UNESCO World Heritage site. On a stroll through the Old Town, learn more about the city's 800-year history, marvel at the late gothic cathedral (Munster), the Clock Tower (Zytglogge) and the 13th century city gate. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 9 Bern - Eggiwil - Rhine Falls - Zurich From Bern we head to Eggiwil to visit a local alphorn-maker and learn how this traditional instrument, a symbol of Swiss farming, is carved from wood. You even have a chance to try coaxing a sound out of the alphorn, before we continue to the Rhine Falls, Europe's largest waterfall. An exciting private boat trip takes us to the middle of the falls, before we return to dry land and continue our journey to Zurich, where the tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 14 April - 29 September 2015

9 days
FROM $4,395*
9 days FROM $4,395*

Provence & The French Riviera, 11 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS:Nice - Monaco - Vence - Cap d'Antibes - Cannes - Aix-en-Provence - Avignon - Saint-Remy-de-Provence - Aigues-Mortes - Arles - the 'Little Alps' - Marseille Discover the charms of Provence and the French Riviera on this incredible eleven-day tour of southern France. Soak up the atmosphere of historical medieval towns, explore Roman ruins and taste regional wines at a private vineyard. In contrast to the sleepy hill- side villages of Provence, the French Riviera boasts some of the most famous resorts in the world, including Monte Carlo and Cannes. Lovers of good French food will also be wowed by the fabulous Mediterranean cuisine you will find here. This tour truly has it all Day 1 Nice - Monaco - Nice Our first day is dedicated to Monaco, the playground of the rich and famous, known for its dazzling harbour and lively entertainment. Stroll through the narrow streets of the old town, sit in a street cafe or wander around Port Hercule. Later today visit Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, where we discover its many themed rooms and beautiful gardens, before returning to Nice. Day 2 Nice - Vence - Cap d'Antibes Our first visit today is to the beautiful village of St-Paul-de-Vence followed by the neighbouring town of Vence, known as the 'City of Art'. Wander through its small streets and squares, which date from the 12th century, before we continue to Cap d'Antibes, our base of the next two nights. Day 3 Cap d'Antibes - Cannes - Cap d'Antibes In Cannes, the Jewel of the Riviera and world-famous for its film festival, glitzy hotels and shopping, we have time to explore the famous 'Croisette' and the Rue d'Antibes. This afternoon we wind our way through the narrow and hilly roads to the delightful old town of Antibes with its beautiful old port, pretty squares, narrow streets and outdoor cafes, before returning to our hotel. Day 4 Cap d'Antibes - Aix-en-Provence From Cap d'Antibes we take a leisurely drive through charming Provencal villages to Aix-en- Provence. Once the home of the artist Paul Cezanne, the old town of Aix has an amazing network of narrow streets and is famous for its superb architecture and magnificent monuments. Admire the Mont Sainte Victoire from a vantage point above town, before we enjoy dinner together tonight. Day 5 Aix-en-Provence Enjoy a walking tour of Aix-en-Provence which allows us to follow in the footsteps of Cezanne, passing the hot thermal springs, the Pavillon de Vendome and the Musee des Tapisseries. You will also have a chance to visit his studio where dozens of works by the great painter were conceived. This afternoon relax and enjoy the town at your own pace. Day 6 Aix-en-Provence - Avignon - Saint-Remy-de-Provence Traverse spectacular landscapes as we make our way to Avignon, a 14th century city once home to Catholic popes. The imposing Palais des Papes dominates the old historic centre and the St Benezet Bridge is a must-see. We enjoy dinner together in Saint-Remy-de-Provence tonight. Day 7 Saint-Remy-de-Provence We wander through the vineyards of the Cotes du Rhone, one of the most famous wine producing regions in France. Our first stop is the magnificent Roman Theatre at Orange. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is extraordinarily well preserved and its Roman arch is particularly beautiful. We then make our way to a very special private vineyard, where we sit on the terrace and enjoy a tasty Provencal lunch, complemented beautifully by local wines. Day 8 Saint-Remy-de-Provence - Aigues-Mortes - Arles Today begins with another stunning classical icon - the mighty Pont du Gard Aqueduct. Built by the Romans in the 1st century, it is one of the region's most famous landmarks. We then head to the Camargue area and stop in the fortified village of Aigues-Mortes, famous for its striking, walled medieval town. In Arles, where the town's narrow winding streets inspired paintings and drawings by both Van Gogh and Picasso, we have over 2000 years of history to discover. Day 9 Arles This morning we enjoy the local sights and see scenes painted by Van Gogh including the famous 'Starlit Cafe'. The afternoon is yours to spend as you wish. Day 10 Arles - the 'Little Alps' - Arles Heading into the 'Little Alps', we explore the Huguenot stronghold of Les Baux-de-Provence. The town rewards us with remarkable views and has been painstakingly restored, boasting over 22 historical listed buildings. Before returning to Arles, we make a final stop at the Carrieres de Lumieres, where images and works of art are projected on to the walls of a former quarry. Tonight we enjoy our last dinner together. Day 11 Arles - Marseille After breakfast we transfer to Marseille where our tour comes to an end. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 29 April - 30 September 2015

11 days
FROM $4,550*
11 days FROM $4,550*

Italian Indulgence, 12 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Rome - Assisi - Perugia - Siena - Tuscany - Florence - Lucca - Pisa - Cinque Terre - Santa Margarita - Mongiardino Ligure - Novi Ligure - Asti - Lake Orta - Lake Maggiore - Verona - Venice Italy continues to inspire visitors year after year and this tour has been carefully crafted to include all the major must-see attractions, while taking you to some of the lesser-known hidden gems of this fascinating country. Enjoy private guided tours in Florence and Venice, visit remote Tuscan villages, try local Italian produce, taste local wines in Chianti, explore the stunning Cinque Terre and discover Lake Maggiore's Borromean Islands. Day 1 Rome - Assisi - Perugia Leaving Italy's capital behind, we drive to the picturesque town of Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis. After exploring this labyrinthine medieval village and travelling through the Umbrian countryside we reach Perugia, a lively medieval walled town. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner together. Day 2 Perugia - Siena - Tuscany After exploring Siena in the morning, we travel through a landscape of rolling green hills, vineyards and age-old olive groves to our idyllic Tuscan villa in the Chianti region, our base for the next two nights. Day 3 Tuscany This morning learn the art of traditional Italian cooking and try your hand at pasta and bread making then sit down to enjoy the dishes that we have prepared. The rest of the day is free to relax in our Tuscan villa; take a dip in the pool or simply relax on the terrace with a cool, refreshing drink. Day 4 Tuscany - Florence - Lucca Most of today will be spent in Florence. After visiting the Galleria dell'Accademia, home to Michelangelo's David, we enjoy a walking tour of the city. Late this afternoon we continue our journey to Lucca, probably the most spectacular walled town in Italy. For classical music lovers we highly recommend purchasing tickets for the Puccini Opera, which is held in the town every evening. Day 5 Lucca - Pisa - Lucca Journey to ancient Pisa, with its famous Leaning Tower that has withstood the onslaught of gravity for almost 600 years. Inside the Baptistery of St. John we discover the building's remarkable acoustics. This afternoon we return to Lucca, where you have time to explore this almost perfectly preserved jewel of medieval architecture at your own pace. Day 6 Lucca - Cinque Terre - Santa Margarita Travel to the Italian Riviera, which includes the five captivating villages that make up the Cinque Terre. Exploring some of these wonderful villages we discover the secrets of this stunning UNESCO World Heritage site. We then continue to our overnight accommodation in Santa Margarita - the playground for the rich and famous. Day 7 Santa Margarita - Mongiardino Ligure - Novi Ligure In Italy's Piedmont region we visit a country farmhouse and taste the Montebore cheese. After settling in to our Novi Ligure accommodation, we visit the historical cellars and taste sparkling wine at Azienda Agricola Cascina Perpetua prior to enjoying dinner together. Day 8 Novi Ligure - Asti - Lake Orta - Lake Maggiore Visit the Torronificio Barbero nougat private collection for a chocolate and nougat tasting. In the province of Vercelli, the largest rice growing area of Europe, we enjoy a traditional risotto lunch before travelling to the serene Lakes region of northern Italy. After stopping in Lake Orta, the enchanting lake that the Milanese try to keep to themselves, we arrive in Lake Maggiore, our base for the next two nights. Day 9 Lake Maggiore We spend most of today exploring the Borromean Islands on Lake Maggiore visiting Isola Bella with its magnificent Baroque Garden, Isola dei Pescatori with its pretty harbour and Isola Madre with its wonderful Renaissance Villa. The rest of the day is free for you to relax on the shores of Lake Maggiore. Day 10 Lake Maggiore - Verona Today we head to romantic Verona, stopping briefly in Lake Garda en route. On arrival we explore the city, seeing its colossal Roman Amphitheatre and Juliet's Balcony. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Day 11 Verona - Venice On arrival in Venice, enjoy a guided walking tour of this fascinating city. Watch daily Venetian life pass by in bustling St Mark's Square and see local landmarks including St Mark's Basilica, Doge's Palace and Rialto Bridge. This afternoon is free for you to continue your independent exploration of the city before we meet for a farewell dinner. Day 12 Venice Our tour finishes after breakfast. (B)This morning we leave Baeza and transfer back to Madrid. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

DepartingValid for select departure 9 April - 1 October 201

12 days
FROM $4,650*
12 days FROM $4,650*

London to Paris via The Channel Islands, 11 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: London - Windsor Castle - Winchester - Dorset - Guernsey - Sark - Guernsey - Jersey - Dinan - St Malo - Mont St Michel - St Malo - Fougeres - Laval - Chartres - Paris This 11-day journey combines the very best of British and French culture focussing on history, nature and tradition. Exploring the Channel Islands, a truly unique corner of the British Isles where British and French influences meet, is a fascinating experience. Learn about the German Occupation, which forms an important part of the history of WWII on Guernsey, step into a world where there are no cars or buses on Sark and discover Jersey's richly textured history. Day 1 London - Windsor Castle - Winchester - Dorset Our first visit brings royalty up close as we explore the world's largest occupied and oldest garrisoned fortress, Windsor Castle, the official residence of the Queen. In Winchester, the former capital of England, enjoy some free time - a visit to Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest in Europe, is highly recommended. At our overnight accommodation in the Dorset countryside, we enjoy a welcome dinner together. Day 2 Dorset - Guernsey If time allows, we visit the imposing Maiden Castle near Dorchester, a large Iron Age hill fort with multiple ramparts, before we travel by ferry to Guernsey and enjoy some free time in St Peter Port. Discover its beautiful seafront marina, wander its narrow cobbled streets, or simply sit back and relax with a coffee to watch the world go by. Later we drive to Sausmarez Manor for a private tour of the house, which has been altered many times since the early 13th century, with major changes occurring during Tudor, Queen Anne, Regency and Victorian times. Day 3 Sark Catch the morning ferry to Sark, an island where no cars or buses are allowed. Walk, or take the 'toast-rack' (a tractor-drawn bus), up to Britain's quietest capital, filled with quaint shops and cafes. You may wish to hire a bike or perhaps treat yourself to a horse and carriage tour, where your driver will reveal Sark's secrets. After a day of independent exploration, return by ferry to Guernsey. Day 4 Guernsey - Jersey Guernsey was occupied by Germany from 1940 to 1945. On tour drive to the German Occupation Museum, which houses an extensive collection of original Occupation items and documents, including many extremely rare pieces before meeting Molly Bihet, who was just nine years old when the Nazis arrived in 1940. Molly will re-count stories of what life was like on Guernsey during this difficult time. Later we travel by ferry to Jersey. Day 5 Jersey Visit Elizabeth Castle, which has defended Jersey for more than 400 years, then spend the afternoon at leisure in St Helier. You may choose to visit the Maritime Museum or the Jersey Museum, which offers a great introduction to Jersey through the ages. Enjoy an evening at leisure in St Aubin village, a picturesque fishing harbour. Day 6 Jersey At La Hougue Bie, we find one of the finest Neolithic passage graves in Western Europe. Learn about life here 6,000 years ago and see ancient treasures in the museum. After exploring Mont Orgueil Castle, which has protected Jersey for over 600 years against a French invasion, enjoy some free time in Gorey harbour. We meet tonight for dinner in the hotel's restaurant. Day 7 Jersey - Dinan - St Malo Take the ferry to France and drive to medieval Dinan where we discover its winding cobbled streets and half timbered houses. After a delicious lunch in a traditional French restaurant and some time at leisure to explore this town independently, we travel to the old walled city of St Malo, our base for the next three nights. Day 8 St Malo Enjoy a walking tour of St Malo to explore its maze of small narrow streets. At the Chateau de St Malo, see exhibits covering all elements of St Malo's historic past that has included piracy, colonialism, slave trading and the German Occupation in WWII. The rest of the day is at leisure. Day 9 St Malo - Mont St Michel - St Malo Today, we wind our way along the Normandy coast towards the rocky islet of Mont St Michel. We enjoy a full day here to wander its narrow streets and visit the magnificent gothic style abbey, which was built between the 11th and the 16th centuries. Day 10 St Malo - Fougeres - Laval Our first stop today is at the fabulous Chateau de Fougeres, which tells a wonderful story revealing both its own history and that of the Marches of Brittany. Later this afternoon we drive to Sainte Suzanne, one of the most beautiful villages of France, before reaching Laval, where we enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 11 Laval - Chartres - Paris Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage site Cathedral of Chartres, one of the best examples of gothic architecture in the world. It is perfectly preserved with its marvellous stonework and exquisite 12th and 13th century stained-glass windows. We finally transfer to Paris, where our tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 15 April - 30 September 2015

11 days
FROM $4,820*
11 days FROM $4,820*

Germany's Romantic Road to Vienna, 11 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Frankfurt - Heidelberg - Rothenberg - Romantic Road - Munich - Neuschwanstein - Igls - Innsbruck - Kitzbuhel - Waidring - Salzburg - Melk Abbey - Krems - Vienna Germany's Romantic Road offers some of the most spectacular views of the Bavarian landscape, with its beautiful halftimbered chalets which appear to belong to giant cuckoo clocks and magnificent castles which may have come straight out of fairytales.The alpine foothills stretch out across the Austrian border to form a stunning backdrop. Sparkling lakes dot the deep valleys and take centre stage in the foreground. Day 1 Frankfurt - Heidelberg Drive to Darmstadt for an orientation tour before continuing to Heidelberg, one of the most picturesque destinations in Germany and home to many historic treasures including its university. This afternoon we visit a local brewery where we learn the ancient art of beer production from a master brewer. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner together. Day 2 Heidelberg Visit the imposing Heidelberg Castle, which dominates the city's skyline. Once a gothic masterpiece, today its ruins have a rugged charm and are considered the symbol of German romanticism. After a walking tour of the historic Old Town to see the Main Street, the Old Stone Bridge and Karl's Gate, which was built in the 18th century, the rest of the day is at leisure. Day 3 Heidelberg - Rothenberg Rothenberg is known as the 'Jewel of the Middle Ages', as architecturally it is little changed from those times. Explore the town with its twisting cobbled streets lined with half timbered houses and shops. We visit St Jakob's Lutheran parish church to see the Sacred Blood Altaer; a glorious 500-yearold masterpiece carved by Tilman Riemenschneider. Day 4 Rothenberg - Romantic Road - Munich A trade route during the Middle Ages, Germany's Romantic Road still retains much of its medieval character. The road often winds through forgotten sections of countryside, connecting walled towns and picturesque villages such as Dinkelsbuhl, Nordlingen and Augsburg, the oldest city in Bavaria. Munich has been beautifully restored since the Second World War and may be enjoyed during an evening at leisure. Day 5 Munich - Neuschwanstein - Igls Today you'll be treated to some of Europe's most beautiful castles - the products of mad King Ludwig II. Enjoy the views at Neuschwanstein Castle, before continuing to Linderhof Palace, the king's smallest but most extravagant palace. Our destination today is the charming town of Igls, located on a sunny plateau just above the city of Innsbruck, which offers sweeping views of the Wipptal Valley. Day 6 Igls - Innsbruck - Igls Most of today is spent in Innsbruck. Walk through the Old Town to see the famous Golden Roof, the Old Town Hall and St. James's Cathedral, then spend some time in the centre of Igls town before returning to our accommodation in the late afternoon. Day 7 Innsbruck - Kitzbuhel - Waidring - Salzburg You'll appreciate the Tyrolean scenery on our drive today. There's time to explore chic Kitzbuhel which has become the ski resort to be seen in season. The road passes through the green tree clad slopes of the mountains as we climb to Waidring. Weather permitting; we take the cable car up Steinplatte, for panoramic views of the Tyrol region, before finishing the day in Salzburg. Day 8 Salzburg Enjoy a walking tour of Salzburg's historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage site. See the magnificent Hohensalzburg Castle and visit Mozart's Birthplace. All around there are reminders of the Sound of Music as you can discover during a leisurely afternoon. Day 9 Salzburg - Melk Abbey - Krems We travel via Mondsee, one of the prettiest towns in Austria to Melk - famous for its Benedictine abbey which sits on a hill above the town overlooking the river Danube. Our scenic route takes us through the idyllic, terraced vineyards of the Wachau valley, stopping in Krems, a pretty town resting on the northern bank of the Danube. Later today we enjoy dinner in our hotel. Day 10 Krems - Vienna From Krems we drive to Schonbrunn Palace on the outskirts of Vienna. After a tour of this magnificent residence, we enjoy an apple strudel show at the Old Bakery of the Palace. We spend this afternoon exploring Vienna with our Back-Roads tour leader, before enjoying our final dinner together this evening. Day 11 Vienna This morning we visit the Spanish Riding School for a private guided tour through the venue and the stables. By the end of the tour, your Back-Roads tour leader will have you well prepared for further exploration of Vienna should you decide to stay on independently. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 24 April - 9 October 2015

11 days
FROM $4,995*
11 days FROM $4,995*

AUD150* voucher terms and conditions:

Receive a Flight Centre gift voucher to the value of AU$150 when you book any of the above Backroads tours in a Flight Centre store. The voucher can be redeemed against any future booking that includes airfares, accommodation, day tours, travel insurance, rail, car hire and cruise (cannot be used to purchase Multi-Currency Cash Passport and Gift Cards). Offer is until the 30th of September. Vouchers are redeemable at any Flight Centre retail store within Australia, for travel originating/departing Australia. A printed copy of the voucher must be presented at the time of booking, and only valid to the person who has made a Back-Roads booking. The customer must book a Back-Roads small group tour between 23 March and 31 May for travel in JUN/JUL/AUG 2015 to receive $150 voucher. This offer is valid for all tours except for Battlefield tours. Back-Roads tour must be paid in full by 31st May. If booking is within 6 weeks of departure, then full payment is required at the time of booking. This offer is not combinable with any other Back-Roads offer. Only one voucher can be used per person, per booking. AUD$150 will be deducted off the customers next booking. Voucher cannot be used to secure a booking, once the expiry period has been reached. Travel must be booked and paid for in full within this period. Vouchers will be non-refundable, non-exchangeable, non-transferrable, non-replaceable and non-redeemable for cash, credit or foreign exchange. This does not apply to travellers cheque transactions. We do not accept any liability in connection with data corruption, computer virus, delay, interruption, non-delivery, unauthorised access or unauthorised amendment of this email. Full booking terms and conditions are available at www.flightcentre.com.au.

WW1 Battlefield Weekend, 3 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS:Lille - The Somme - Villers-Bretonneux - Ypres - Fromelles - Vimy Ridge This three-day introductory tour allows visitors to see the major areas of British and Commonwealth involvement across the Western Front. The tour is flexible enough to ensure that visitors from all countries will see the memorials to their country's fallen. Day 1 Lille - The Somme - Villers-Bretonneux - Ypres We visit the Somme battlefield to see, amongst other important sites, the Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont Hamel, the Ulster Tower, the Pozieres battlefield, Windmill Hill, and Courcellette. We will also visit the National War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, before returning, via the huge Lochnagar mine crater, to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing to conclude the day. Day 2 Ypres - Ypres Salient - Ypres We spend today in the Ypres Salient to see some of the most important sites that remain: John McRae's Essex Farm Cemetery, Messines Ridge, Hooge Crater, Polygon Wood, Tyne Cot and the moonscape of the Hill 60. This evening we attend the nightly playing of the Last Post ceremony under the Menin Gate at 8pm. Day 3 Ypres - Fromelles - Vimy Ridge - Lille At the Fromelles Battlefield visit the new Pheasant Wood Cemetery, then see where Adolf Hitler served and the bunker he is reputed to have used as a billet. We cross the Loos battlefield on our way to the Canadian Memorial Park at Vimy Ridge, where we take a trench and tunnel tour (weather permitting) and spend time at the massive and imposing Vimy Memorial. We continue to Lille where this tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 11 April - 17 October 2015

3 days
FROM $945*
3 days FROM $945*

D-Day: Battles for France, 4 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Paris - Normandy Beaches - St Marie du Mont - Bayeux This four-day tour will take you from defeat to victory, tracing the events during one of the most gripping periods of the 20th century as we follow in the footsteps of brave soldiers. Day 1 Paris - Normandy Beaches - St Marie du Mont Making our way to Normandy, we stop at the Merville Battery overlooking Sword Beach and the military cemetery. In Ranville, the first village to be liberated after the Allied offensive, visit the War Cemetery before explore Pegasus Bridge, which was captured intact in less than ten minutes on 6 June 1944. Day 2 Normandy Beaches Today is spent covering the British and Canadian landing and dropping zones; Gold and Juno Beaches, each with their own reminders of epic events, the Mulberry Harbour in Arromanches, and many other places of interest, including the Canadian War Cemetery at Benysur-Mer and Longues-sur-Mer Battery. Day 3 Normandy Beaches Time today is spent covering the American involvement. We visit Utah Beach and 'bloody' Omaha Beach, and Colleville Cemetery, containing the remains of nearly 10,000 servicemen. We also stop at Sainte-Mere-Eglise, where paratrooper John Steele got caught on the church steeple. Day 4 St Marie du Mont - Bayeux - Paris In Bayeux we visit the Memorial Museum and see the world-famous Tapestry, before we travel to Trun and learn about the Battle of the Falaise Pocket, which opened the way to Paris for the Allies. On return to Paris our tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 1 May - 2 October 2015

4 days
FROM $1,395*
4 days FROM $1,395*

Anzacs on The Western Front, 4 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Lille - Ypres - Amiens - The Somme - Villers-Bretonneux Our ANZAC tours retrace the steps of the Australian and New Zealand troops in WWI. The 4-day tour runs on selected dates throughout the season, however, if you would like your tour to coincide with the ANZAC Day Dawn Ceremony, join our special five-day tour departing Lille on April 23rd 2015. Day 1 Lille - Ypres We travel along the Messines Ridge, where the New Zealand and Australian troops played a crucial role. We visit Polygon Wood, where the monument to the 5th Division stands on the pre-war rifle butte, and Tyne Cot, where the ANZAC's played such an important role in the Battle of Passchendaele. We explore the Hooge Crater Trenches and Museum as well as Hill 60, famous for the role of the Australian Tunnellers. Our first day finishes with the moving Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres. Day 2 Ypres - Amiens Visit the newly-dedicated Pheasant Wood Cemetery where 250 Australian soldiers have recently been laid to rest. We continue our day exploring the Wellington Tunnels in Arras and learn about the battle at Bullecourt including a visit to the evocative Digger memorial. Day 3 Amiens - The Somme - Amiens We tour the front line on the battlefields of the Somme; visiting Pozieres, the famous Windmill site and Mouquet Farm. New Zealanders will find the monument at Longueval very moving and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing is a chilling reminder of the British Expeditionary Force losses here in 1916 - 1917. Day 4 Amiens - Villers-Bretonneux - Lille In Villers-Bretonneux we see the inspiring Australian National Memorial and the Franco-Australian Museum, housed in the Victoria School, where the words "Never Forget Australia" are still proudly displayed over the school yard. We continue in the footsteps of the ANZAC's via the Memorial Park at Le Hamel, before returning to Lille where the tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 14 April - 20 October 2015

4 days
FROM $1,395*
4 days FROM $1,395*

Greece: Peloponnese & Spetses, 5 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS: Athens - Nafplion - Epidaurus - Mycenae - Spetses - Hydra - Athens Filled with cultural riches and a diverse natural beauty, the Peloponnese is where you will find the best of almost everything Greek. Discover the Homeric palaces of Agamemnon at Mycenae, see the best preserved of all Greek theatres at Epidaurus and enjoy the tranquillity and authentic charm of Spetses, an island popular with high-society Athenians, but relatively undiscovered by other visitors. Day 1 Athens - Nafplion Crossing the Corinth Canal, we stop at a local winery to enjoy a tasting of the famous Agiorgitiko red wine before arriving in Nafplion, a colourful town with neoclassical buildings, middle age fountains and labyrinthine streets. Day 2 Nafplion - Epidaurus - Mycenae - Nafplion We visit Epidaurus, famous for its ancient theatre and explore Mycenae to see the Beehive Tombs, the Treasury of Atreus, the Lion Gate and the remains of Agamemnon's Royal Palace. Later visit the Karonis Distillery for a tour and tasting of its ouzo and liqueur products. Day 3 Nafplion - Spetses Take the hydrofoil to Spetses, a naturally beautiful island, located at the south end of the Argo-Saronic Gulf. The rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps sip an espresso or frappe, while watching the locals go about their everyday lives in the tiny port of Dapia. Day 4 Spetses As cars are banned from the island, we enjoy a morning tour of Spetses by horse-drawn carriage. Admire the grand mansions adorning the narrow cobbled streets of the island and visit the House of Bouboulina museum with its wood-carved Florentine ceiling and collection of old weapons. After an afternoon at leisure, we enjoy a final dinner together. Day 5 Spetses - Hydra - Athens Travel by ferry to the island of Hydra, another gem of the Agro-Saronic Gulf, with tiny cobbled lanes, secluded squares and exquisitely preserved stone architecture. After a walking tour to see the main sights of the town we return to Athens by ferry where the tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 29 May - 2 October 2015

5 days
FROM $1,595*
5 days FROM $1,595*

Kent & Sussex, 4 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: London - Chartwell - Penshurst Place - Canterbury - Whitstable - Dover - Canterbury - Chapel Down Winery - Rye - Sissinghurst Castle - London This four day tour explores the south east corner of England, which is filled with a wealth of historical, cultural and culinary attractions. Discover why Canterbury is the jewel in Kent's crown and why Whitstable has been dubbed the 'Pearl of Kent'. Wander through peaceful gardens, taste award winning English sparkling wines and explore 1066 country, made famous by the Battle of Hastings. Day 1 London - Chartwell - Penshurst Place - Canterbury Explore Chartwell, once the private home of Sir Winston Churchill and Penshurst Place, described as 'the grandest and most perfectly preserved example of a fortified manor house in all England'. Later we arrive at our hotel in the private grounds of Canterbury Cathedral. Day 2 Canterbury - Whitstable - Dover - Canterbury Our circular route from Canterbury takes us to Whitstable, a charming port bustling with picturesque lanes, boutique shops, seafood eateries and artisanal bakeries. We then visit the iconic White Cliffs of Dover. Back in Canterbury, enjoy an evening at leisure. Day 3 Canterbury - Chapel Down Winery - Rye Visit the Chapel Down Winery to taste some of their award-winning English wines before boarding the Tenterden Steam Railway, which winds its way through the beautiful countryside of the Rother Valley. Our destination today is Rye, a picturesque market town in 1066 country. Day 4 Rye - Sissinghurst Castle - London Explore 1066 country including Rye with its maritime maze of Medieval and Georgian buildings, Hastings with its picturesque Old Town and the thriving market town of Battle, home to the very spot where King Harold fell during the fateful conflict. After visiting Sissinghurst Castle, we return to London. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 11 May - 7 September 2015

4 days
FROM $1,650*
4 days FROM $1,650*

Isle of Wight & The New Forest, 5 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: London - Chawton House - Portsmouth - Isle of Wight - New Forest - Newbury - London This tour features two regions of natural beauty; on the Isle of Wight, taste fresh produce and uncover some of the history of British Royalty and pick the freshest fruit and vegetable in the New Forest. Uncover the best of Southern England on this wonderful five-day tour. Day 1 London - Chawton House - Portsmouth - Isle of Wight Our journey takes us to the 17th century Chawton House where Jane Austen once lived. After some free time in Portsmouth, the UK's only island city, we board the ferry for our crossing to the Isle of Wight. Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner that features fresh seasonal and local produce. Day 2 Isle of Wight Visit Carisbrooke Castle, where King Charles I was famously imprisoned prior to his execution. Later explore Ventnor Botanic Garden, which is unrivalled for its collections of subtropical and exotic plants. Day 3 Isle of Wight - New Forest After visiting Osborne House, Queen Victoria's royal seaside palace, we embark on a scenic drive to Yarmouth. This afternoon we return to the mainland and make our way to Buckler's Hard, which played an important part in Britain's shipbuilding history. We spend the next two nights in the New Forest. Day 4 New Forest In Ringwood, a traditional market town, we enjoy some free time and discover the lively weekly market. Later, we explore the ancient New Forest and learn more from a local guide about its history, wildlife and foraging for its fruits and fungi. We enjoy a farewell dinner together tonight. Day 5 New Forest - Newbury - London Today we make our way to Newbury. Here we enjoy a traditional narrow boat experience on the Kennet and Avon canal before returning to London. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 3 May - 27 September 2015

5 days
FROM $1,795*
5 days FROM $1,795*

Orkney & The Highlands, 4 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS:Inverness - Scottish Highlands - Kirkwall - Neolithic settlements & archaeological sites - Wick - Dunrobin Castle - Inverness On this tour of discovery, see some of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe and explore a sliver of mankind's ancient existence that's found nowhere else. Steeped in Viking history, the Orkney is sprinkled with prehistoric sites that have survived Scotland's climate for over 5,000 years. Day 1 Inverness - Scottish Highlands - Kirkwall We travel through the northern Highlands passing through Beauly and Strathpeffer. We continue our journey through the Caithness to the Castle and Gardens of Mey, the beloved home of the late Queen Mother. Later we catch the ferry to Orkney. Day 2 Neolithic settlements & archaeological sites Visit a number of amazing archaeological sites, including the Stone Age tomb of Maes Howe and Skara Brae and the mystical standing stones of Brodgar. We drive to the Broch of Gurness, where we see evidence of a Viking settlement. Tides permitting, we also walk to the Brough of Birsay. Day 3 Kirkwall - Wick We explore the former Viking settlement of Kirkwall, with its interesting historical sites including St Magnus Cathedral, Earl's Palace and Bishop's Palace. This is also home to one of Scotland's best distilleries, Highland Park Distillery. We travel to Scapa Flow and we visit the famous Italian Chapel, before we take the ferry back to the mainland and drive to Wick. Day 4 Wick - Dunrobin Castle - Inverness We visit Dunrobin Castle which has been home to the Dukes of Sutherland since the 1400s. Following a beautiful coastal road, we cross the Dornoch and Cromarty Firths and travel back to Inverness. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 5 May - 29 September 2015

4 days
FROM $1,795*
4 days FROM $1,795*

Istanbul to Kusadasi, 6 Days

Europe

HIGHLIGHTS:Istanbul - Gallipoli Battlefields - Canakkale - Troy - Assos - Yesilyurt - Pergamon - Sirince - Pamukkale - Ephesus - Priene - Didyma - Miletus - Kusadasi Develop a taste for the exotic on this short tour where our small coach comes into its own to take you off the well-known tourist trail to uncover hidden Turkey. Discover the Gallipoli peninsula, the site of one of the most futile battles of World War I. See ancient Greco-Roman cities - including Ephesus, in many ways the grandest of all. Day 1 Istanbul - Gallipoli Battlefields - Canakkale Away from Istanbul we find the Chateau Barbare vineyards where we learn about Turkish wine production. In the Gallipoli peninsula we visit famous sites such as Brighton Beach, ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. Day 2 Gallipoli - Troy - Assos - Yesilyurt Explore the ruins of Troy where various layers of the city's history may be seen in the foundations, before driving to Assos to discover the Athena Temple. In Kucukkuyu we visit an old olive press to see how Turkish olive oil is made. Day 3 Yesilyurt - Pergamon - Sirince We wind our way along the Kozak Plateau to Pergamon, for a tour of the Acropolis. After lunch at a country farm we drive to Sirince, our base for the next three nights. Day 4 Sirince - Pamukkale - Sirince We see the Temple of Aphrodite, the ruins of Hierapolis and the white limestone travertine and hot spring terraces of Pamukkale. Day 5 Sirince - Ephesus - Sirince We see a pillar which is all that remains of the Temple of Artemis, en route to the Greco-Roman city of Ephesus. On a walk through the city, you will see the famous Library of Celsus and the amphitheatre where the disciple Paul preached. Later we visit the House of the Virgin Mary, a sacred site for Christians and Muslims. Back in Sirince we enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 6 Sirince - Priene - Didyma - Miletus - Kusadasi Drive to Priene, the favourite home of Alexander The Great, then to Didyma to admire the giant Apollo Theatre and finally visit Miletus, whose famous citizens included Thales a philosopher of nature and the universe. Our tour ends in Kusadasi, a resort city on Turkey's Aegean coast. Ask about our great airfaresView our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 5 June - 9 October 2015

6 days
FROM $1,845*
6 days FROM $1,845*

Heart of England, 5 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: London - Oxford - Cotswolds - Stratfordupon - Avon - Cotswolds - Lacock - Bath - Longleat - Avebury - London The Heart of England is one the UK's most iconic regions, encompassing Oxford, the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage site. On this five-day journey, we will visit Oxford and Lacock, explore quaint Cotswold villages famous for their charming honey-coloured stone cottages with thatched roofs, wander along historic village streets and explore traditional stately homes. Day 1 London - Oxford - Cotswolds Relax as we travel through the Chilterns to Oxford, the most famous university city in the world. Here we enjoy a walk among the golden-stone buildings and 'dreaming spires' and visit one of the university's iconic colleges. This afternoon we traverse the gentle, timeless hills of the Cotswolds, and pass through scenic villages, stopping at some of the gems on our way to tonight's accommodation in beautiful Chipping Campden. This evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner together. Day 2 Cotswolds - Stratfordupon - Avon - Cotswolds This morning is a feast for literary enthusiasts and history buffs as we visit Shakespeare's Stratford-upon- Avon to discover Ye Olde England of the Bard's birth and his final resting place, Holy Trinity Church just outside the city. En route we will stop at a thatched farmhouse where the young William Shakespeare courted his future bride Anne Hathaway. Later, we meander through country lanes and honey-coloured hamlets to quaint villages such as Snowshill, Bidford and Broadway, which are often referred to as the "Jewels of the Cotswolds". Tonight we return to our delightful Cotswolds base for an evening at leisure. Day 3 Cotswolds - Lacock - Bath Leaving the Cotswolds behind, this morning we journey south towards Somerset, a beautiful and varied county in the west of England. Our first visit is to the picture-perfect village of Lacock, which has been used in countless television and movie productions including Pride and Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl and Harry Potter. After some time here to wander the historic village streets, see the exhibitions in the museum and visit the abbey we continue to Castle Coombe a small village in Wiltshire, also frequently used as a backdrop for period television and cinema dramas. Here we will enjoy a delicious cream tea, something that has been a tradition of British high society as far back as the early 19th century when Anna, the 7th Dutchess of Bedford, started to enjoy a pot a tea and a light snack privately in her boudoir during the afternoon. Our final destination today is Bath, where we spend the next two nights. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bath is truly one of Europe's most attractive cities, with the highest concentration of listed buildings anywhere in the British Isles. The evening is free to enjoy the city as you wish. Day 4 Bath Today we explore this splendid Georgian city to learn more about Roman life at the restored Roman Baths and see the towering 15th century abbey, fascinating Pulteney Bridge and the imposing Georgian Royal Crescent. We will also visit No.1 Royal Crescent, a magnificent townhouse that creates a wonderfully vivid picture of life in 18th century Bath. This afternoon is yours to spend at leisure. Those wishing to relax may choose to spend a few hours at the Thermae Bath Spa, Britain's original and only natural thermal spa, while others may choose to explore the myriad small independent shops, stylish boutiques and familiar high street stores. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner together. Day 5 Bath - Longleat - Avebury - London From Bath we drive to Longleat, an English stately home, currently the seat of the Marquess of Bath. After a behind the scenes tour of the house, which will incorporate some of Lord Bath's personal murals, we continue to the village of Avebury to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Standing Stones, which rival Stonehenge as the largest and most complex prehistoric site in Britain. While Stonehenge attracts tourists from all around the world (and security precautions prevent you from getting anywhere near the stones) at Avebury visitors may walk freely among the stones in relative peace and quiet, away from the tourist crowds. Later today we take a leisurely drive back to London where the tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 23 March - 12 October 2015

5 days
FROM $1,925*
5 days FROM $1,925*

Edinburgh Military Tattoo, 4 Days

United Kingdom

HIGHLIGHTS: Edinburgh - Aberfeldy - Pitlochry - Loch Leven - Edinburgh Tattoo - Falkirk Wheel - Linlithgow - Scottish Borders - Edinburgh Every August Edinburgh hosts one of the world's most spectacular entertainment events, set against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo draws together a host of creative talent from around the globe. Day 1 Edinburgh - Aberfeldy - Pitlochry - Loch Leven - Edinburgh In Aberfeldy, a small market town, we see the Black Watch Monument then visit the Crannog Visitors Centre in Loch Tay. Later we drive to Pitlochry, home to the Edradour Distillery, the smallest in Scotland. En route back to Edinburgh, we take in Dunkeld, Perthshire's ancient capital and Loch Leven, the largest loch in the Scottish Lowlands. Day 2 Edinburgh Tattoo Today is devoted to Edinburgh, Scotland's famous capital. We discover this fascinating city with its medieval and Georgian architecture and its imposing castle. Explore independently this afternoon before we meet up for the Edinburgh Tattoo, the highlight of our trip. This show is a fabulous mix of music, dance and display from all over the world. Day 3 Edinburgh - Falkirk Wheel - Linlithgow - Edinburgh After a morning at leisure, we travel to the Falkirk Wheel, the world's only rotating boat lift. Next we visit the magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace and discover the history of this great royal palace. This evening we enjoy a final dinner together. Day 4 Edinburgh - Scottish Borders - Edinburgh Today we discover the turbulent history, heritage and culture of the Scottish Borders, renowned for its untouched natural beauty, picturesque villages, castles and abbey ruins. We visit Jedburgh Abbey and the Burgh of Selkirk, before returning to Edinburgh where our tour ends. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

Departing 3 - 15 August 2015

4 days
FROM $1,995*
4 days FROM $1,995*

Back-Roads Touring is a small-group touring concept offering leisurely regional tours throughout the UK and Europe. Tours explore local areas that might otherwise be missed such as Cornwall, La Provence, Loire Valley, the Scottish Highlands and Northern Italy. Tours range from one to 14 days in length. This company has more than 25 years experience touring the UK and Europe, with guides that are both knowledgeable and approachable.

Why Travel with Back-Roads

Maximum Group Size 18

With a maximum of 18 passengers, their professional tour leaders are able to offer a more personalised experience, with more attention to the interests of individuals and flexible touring days

Scenic Back Roads not freeways

Back-Roads touring mini-coaches can travel along local roads and across breath-taking mountain passes, to find charming villages and picturesque vistas which lie beyond the well-worn tourist trails, and reach places where large motor coaches cannot go

Charming Accommodation

They choose charming accommodation to reflect the character of the region you visit, from a French chateau, to a small country inn. Every style of accommodation is in keeping with its surrounds and brings more authenticity to the itinerary

Authentic Local Experiences

Back-Roads touring recognise that authentic local experiences have greater appeal than attractions on the typical tourist trail. They take the time to seek out experiences where the guests can relate to local crafts and culture

Culinary Experiences

Sampling local cuisine is an integral part of experiencing the culture – not to mention one of life’s pleasures. They include authentic culinary experiences which are locally sourced

Leisurely Paced Itineraries

They rarely leave the accommodation before 8.30am and the itineraries are thoughtfully planned to avoid cramming too much into one day. Sometimes you’ll have an afternoon – or even a day – at leisure. And, they promise that we keep long drives to a minimum

Did you know...

  • 20% of Back-Roads travellers are single travellers
  • Once Back-Roads has four confirmed passengers, the tour is guaranteed to run
  • Return passengers receive a 2.5% discount on all future tours

Explore Back-Roads Touring

"Superb trip, will thoroughly recommend the tour and will look forward to our next tour with your company. Giovanni was great. His nature and kindness was outstanding and he looked after us all, nothing was ever a bother - he could accommodate all requests. Thank you, thank you! I loved travelling the back roads and going to small villages. My favourite authentic local experiences were Chipping Campden - wonderful 2 nights stay and food at the Abbey Hotel - superb."

- Julie Sprunt, New South Wales, Australia

“I have travelled before on a typical large group tour. Travelling in a small group was much better. I especially liked the smaller number of 13 passengers. Having experienced the tour I appreciated staying in hotels with local décor and within the old areas of the cities we visited. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable holiday. My favourite local experience was the Flamenco Show in Seville."

- Philip Crowther, Victoria, Australia

"Everything was run at a leisurely pace, which allowed us to truly appreciate the scenery and the fact that we could stop along the way to take pictures when we wanted to. Yann added to the enjoyment with his humour, consideration and being there for any questions and translations. The highlight of my tour was The Chateaus, Monets' Garden - My favourite local experience was the picnic lunch, with local cheese and wines."

- Vicki Jones, Queensland, Australia

"After an exhausting few weeks of touring I appreciated the leisurely pace and authenticity of the Backroads tour. The driver + guide enhanced the tour- local knowledge, humour, caring and very well prepared. Excellent! Good team work. The charming accommodation and the different types of hotels gave a unique flavour to the tour- an authentic touch, often not gained when staying at larger hotels catering for the tourists. A wonderful tour, thank you!”

- Janet Brand, South Australia, Australia

"I have just finished my first of three Back-Roads tours and it was absolutely awesome! I feel that because we were in a smaller bus, we were able to go to different places and in my opinion even better locations. On this tour I really got a feel for Scotland not just the usual spots and highways. There were so many wow moments...all of the Skye portion was incredible, especially the Quiraing, Old Man of Stor, Kilt Rock, the Kelpies ....They were all fabulous and our tour leader Tom was fantastic! Tom was incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about Scotland. He shared his love of this country and left me loving it too! He was attentive to all of us and very respectful and kind. The group really came together with Tom as the nucleus. He also had a way of making us feel laid back and relaxed yet still keeping to a schedule. He had a great sense of humour. I am very glad to have found Back-Roads ...."

- Donna Servetnyk, Alberta, Canada

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